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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - August 24, 2015

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Crystal Cruises Unveils Itineraries for Crystal Yacht Cruises
Starting next month, travelers can book their luxury yachting vacation with Crystal Yacht Cruises, the most recent innovation from Crystal Cruises. As Crystal Esprit charts new waters with its maiden voyage this winter, Crystal Cruises is unveiling the complete itineraries and fares for 2016 through the beginning of 2018. The routes were first made available for booking exclusively for Crystal Society members – Crystal's repeat guest program – and will be open to all travelers September 1.

At their guests' fingertips are water skis, wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, and snorkel equipmentThe new routes mark Crystal's first-ever offering of immersive itineraries focused in warm waters and reaching remote and coveted locales not easily reached by larger cruise ships. The extravagantly appointed yacht – outfitted for adventure, both, on board and ashore – is set to call in ports never before visited by Crystal's acclaimed ocean vessels, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

On seven-day itineraries that reposition seasonally, Crystal Esprit will take guests to stunning locales including the Seychelles, Adriatic Coast, Oman, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, immersing guests in the destinations. The yacht's first guests will sail December 23, 2015 on a route round-trip from Mahe/Victoria, Seychelles, with visits to neighboring islands. The yacht's maiden voyage offers an inclusive post- and pre- cruise New Year's Eve Extravaganza in Dubai, complete with three- or four-night accommodations at the extraordinary Dubai Taj Hotel and spectacular fireworks display

In 2016 through the beginning of 2018, travelers can visit:

• Indian Ocean (January-March) – Sailing round-trip from Mahe/Victoria, Seychelles, with optional two- and four-night inclusive Dubai Land Package;

• Cosmopolitan Emirates (December) – Sailing round-trip from Dubai, calling on such ports as Muscat and Khasab, Oman; Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE; and Doha, Qatar;

• Holy Land (March/April/November) – Sailing from Limassol, Cyprus and Aqaba, Jordan, calling in Haifa, Eilat and Ashdod, Israel;

• Mediterranean (April-November) – Sailing various routes from Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Athens, Greece, calling in charming Croatian spots along the Dalmatian Coast and picturesque Greek Isles.

"One of the most compelling and thrilling new elements that Crystal Esprit offers our guests is itineraries filled with destinations they've not been able to visit on a large cruise ship before," says Crystal President & CEO Edie Rodriguez. "The Crystal yachting experience will take our travelers to locales with the same spectacular beauty and culture, but a more intimate atmosphere."

Most of Crystal Esprit's seven-day itineraries have been specifically developed and deployed to allow travelers to combine two voyages into longer 14-day vacations.

The vessel is an extravagantly appointed yacht, delivered to Crystal Cruises by Genting Hong Kong (GHK), and extensively redesigned to reflect the stylish elegance for which Crystal is renowned. The 62-guest, 3,300-tonnage yacht will offer intimate, exclusive, and immersive experiences with a boutique ambiance. The all-suite yacht will feature posh, high-end finishes and modern technology, and is outfitted with some decidedly extreme features, like a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender for special boating adventures. Additionally, at their guests' fingertips are water skis, wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, and snorkel equipment.

Carnival Pride to Return to Tampa in 2017
Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride will return to the Port of Tampa to operate a series of five- to 14-day voyages in January and February 2017, providing consumers with an exciting variety of “Fun Ship” vacation choices from this popular Florida port.

Carnival Pride to Return to TampaCarnival Pride has undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation that added consumer favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network Star Guy Fieri, the full-service Bonsai Sushi, and BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic Mexican fare, along with innovative beverage concepts like the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, and the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar. A massive WaterWorks aqua park highlighted by Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest water slide at sea, was added, as well

“Tampa is a popular port for ‘Fun Ship’ cruising and we’re thrilled that the Carnival Pride is returning to the port to operate this series of five- to 14-day cruises which feature visits to top destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “These cruises also provide our valued travel agent partners with exciting new vacation choices to market to their clients,” she added.

Five- to Seven-Day Cruises From Tampa - Carnival Pride will operate a series of seven-day cruises from Tampa departing Jan. 15, 22 and 29, and Feb. 19, 2017, visiting some of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, including Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; and George Town, Grand Cayman. Carnival Pride will also offer a five-day cruise round-trip from Tampa February 14-19, 2017, calling at Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Each of these destinations are world-renowned for their beautiful beaches, wide range of sightseeing choices and excellent water sports opportunities.

Special 13- and 14-Day Carnival Journeys Cruises From Baltimore and Tampa - Prior to its deployment to Tampa, Carnival Pride will operate a 13-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing Baltimore Jan. 2 and arriving in Tampa Jan. 15, 2017. Ports of call include Grand Turk, B.W.I.; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama (including optional excursions to the Panama Canal); Limon, Costa Rica; Mahogany Bay; Cozumel and the Caribbean’s newest destination, Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, which serves as the gateway to one of the world’s most breathtaking cruising regions.

A 14-day Carnival Journeys voyage will depart Tampa Feb. 26, visiting Cozumel, Limon, Colon, Aruba, Bonaire, and St. Maarten before arriving in Baltimore March 12, 2017. Following this voyage, Carnival Pride will resume its year-round schedule of seven-day cruises from Baltimore beginning March 12, 2017.

Carnival Journeys is a unique collection of longer length voyages featuring spectacular ports of call and unique on-board activities created especially for this one-of-a-kind cruise program. In addition to experiencing and exploring ports of call throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America, Carnival Journeys guests can enjoy local culinary experiences, participate in exclusive team member Q&As and special activities, including a fun-filled “throw back sea day” with retro activities and old school dining options from the 1980s.

Royal Caribbean Introduces New Shore Excursions
Designed to meet every travel passion, Royal Caribbean International taps into what guests really want to do on their next vacation with an enhanced shore excursion program featuring exclusive new options. From playing five-on-five soccer in Spain to exploring Buddhist temples in Bangkok, these new excursions allow guests to discover a destination through activities that appeal to their sense of adventure. The cruise line’s more than 2,800 shore excursions worldwide, including experiences in private destinations Labadee and CocoCay, have been grouped into seven special interest categories designed based on guest’s interest and vacation needs: Active Adventures, Family Connections, Royal Tour Challenge, Culture and Sights, Culinary Delights, Caring Discoveries, and the Royal Premium Tour Collection.

The thrilling Jetlev, a water-propelled jetpack, lets you and your adrenaline-seeking teens fly over the ocean and soar through the air.Active Adventures - Guests can get their hearts pumping with activities at every level, from riding a dune buggy and boat rides to high-energy excursions that will take their vacation’s adrenaline factor to the next level. From tackling six exhilarating zip lines and two skybridges in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to rappelling through small waterfalls, sliding toboggan-style down boulders and jumping off cliffs into natural pools at a thrilling watercourse in Madeira, Portugal, adventure seekers can test their metal on any one of these excursions.

Family Connections - Creating lifelong memories are what family vacations are all about. What better way to ensure those come to life with shore excursions that kids, parents and even grandparents can enjoy together. Families can share exciting experiences while attending gladiator school in Rome, Italy, where they can learn Roman gladiator combat skills with a hands-on fighting lesson and earn a certificate of Roman citizenship. Or embark into the great outdoors with a wilderness kayak experience at Chilkoot Lake in Skagway, Alaska, where adventure seekers might spot bald eagles, brown bears, seals, sea lions or even whales.

Royal Tour Challenge - In the spirit of good fun and some friendly competition, guests can spend their days in port with challenge-based activities designed especially for families and groups. Families and friends can spend some quality time together with a half-day laser tag adventure in Cozumel, Mexico, where participants will hit targets to gather points by following a jungle path filled with Mayan ruin replicas. Or better yet, guests can enjoy a five-on-five soccer game in Gijon, Spain, followed by a game of paddle tennis, a raquet sport played extensively in Spain.

Culture and Sights - For travelers looking to explore history and culture with local experts and enrich their understanding of the world, they can select classic sightseeing tours, guided visits to archaeological sites and museums, live performances, and more. Guests can visit a sprawling Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand, which was built in honor of two famous kings, or explore Rome, Italy, in an Ape Calessino, the little vehicle eponymous to Italian style which launched in 1948 to help with post-WWII reconstruction.

Culinary Delights - Want to know what’s on the menu, in the fields or on tap? Discover a destination’s authentic, essential flavors through excursions that introduce guests to local chefs, specialties and purveyors. Visit Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau, Bahamas, and delight in making truffles, bonbons and bars with a tropical flair, or learn pizza-making from the experts in Naples, Italy, where the Italian favorite was invented in 1830.

Caring Discoveries - Guests wanting to make a difference in the places they visit can select tours committed to wildlife, the environment and local communities. Whether it is saving a sea turtle in Cozumel, Mexico, where approximately 20 percent of turtles aren’t quite ready to head for the seas, or meeting an Iditarod musher and their racing dogs at a dog sled camp in Skagway, Alaska, visitors will leave a lasting impression.

Private Destinations: Labadee, Haiti and CocoCay, Bahamas - These secluded escapes boast experiences that range from soaring 500 feet above the beaches of Labadee on the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, to tranquil beachside escapes appreciated through guided nature walks or lounging on the white sandy beach of CocoCay. Exclusive to Royal Caribbean guests, the dynamic offerings in Labadee and CocoCay tantalize guest’s individual craving for adventure or relaxation.

Princess Cruises Releases Sixth Annual Relaxation Report
Americans are hard workers, but when it comes to taking a break, they may need some advice. According to results released today from Princess Cruises' sixth annual Relaxation Report, over half (54%) of Americans spend their vacation days dealing with personal obligations such as family emergencies, doctor's or dentist's appointments and sick days for their children or loved ones rather than actually vacationing. And the mere thought of asking their boss for a few extra days off causes more stress than asking for a pay raise for nearly a quarter (22%) of American workers, according to the recent survey by Wakefield Research for Princess Cruises.

Princess Cruises Releases Sixth Annual Relaxation ReportOn this National Relaxation Day (Saturday, August 15,) the idea of stress and relaxation is an important discussion to be had with our 24/7 always-on American culture. Stress triggers are on the rise with nearly a one-third of people who get stressed at just the thought of relaxing, up from 28-percent in 2014. And 42-percent frequently feel guilty about relaxing, also up from 38-percent last year. For more than a third of Americans (36%), it’s even more difficult to find time to relax than to live within their budget!

"In the six years that Princess Cruises has commissioned this survey, we've continued to see stress levels rise year after year …" said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. "We aren’t giving ourselves permission to truly let go and relax, and whether that’s because of the demands on our intense lives or our own guilt, this is an unsustainable trend that can have a genuinely adverse impact on our society as a whole."

Even summertime brings no reprieve. Despite the sunshine, warm weather and break from school schedules, more than three quarters (77%) of parents are busier during the summer months compared to the rest of the year. That's due in part to the stress that comes with planning – and taking – an actual vacation for half (50%) of Americans who find things like research and handling travel logistics stressful, and over half (55%) who return feeling the need for a vacation from their vacation.

On the optimistic side however, Americans still believe they can achieve the dream of finding relaxation, with two-thirds (66%) who agree that taking a cruise would be the best way to experience life and relaxation all in one vacation. Proudly, Princess Cruises offers an array of options for any traveler looking to “come back new” aboard its worldwide fleet of ships in exotic destinations.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.48 - 12.12%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.99 - 7.17%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.31 - 14.44
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.93 - 8.63%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the France of 1962 was built for the French Line she cost $80 million. How much did Norwegian Cruise Line pay for the classic liner when they acquired her in 1979?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
October 25, 1986 was the end of an era for Cunard Line. What was the significance of that date?

Answer - It was the last date that the QE2 sailed as a steamship. She then went to Blom & Voss in Hamburg to be converted to diesel-electric power. It was and still is the largest such conversion in maritime history. The QE2 went on to become the most loved Cunarder ever. She was retired in 2008.
courtesy of Larry P. Macdonald, Belmont, MA USA


Cruise News - August 17, 2015

Norwegian Escape Floats Out From Building Dock
Norwegian Escape, soon to be the largest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, was floated out of MEYER WERFT's covered building dock II on Saturday, August 15 in Papenburg, Germany, where the 164,600-ton ship has been under construction since September 2014. Beginning at approximately 9:15 am local time, the 4,200 passenger vessel, with her signature hull artwork designed by famed marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey, departed building dock II. Norwegian Escape is the first ship in the line's Breakaway Plus Class, measuring 1,098 feet in length and 136 feet wide.

Norwegian Escape Floats Out From Building DockNorwegian Escape's float out represents a major milestone in the vessel's construction, with the ship being well on her way to completion she will now move into the final phase of construction with delivery taking place on October 22, 2015.

"MEYER WERFT has done an excellent job with the construction of Norwegian Escape," Norwegian Cruise Line's President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Stuart said. "The ship's float out brings us one step closer to bringing the next evolution of Freestyle Cruising to the world and we couldn't be more excited."

Following the ship's float out, the next milestones will be mounting the ship's signature Norwegian Cruise Line funnel and taking thrills to new heights by adding a third story to Norwegian Escape's ropes course?due to be the largest at sea. Norwegian Escape's conveyance down the river Ems towards the North Sea is scheduled for September 16 (weather permitting).

Following inaugural events in Europe and Miami, Norwegian Escape will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises departing every Saturday from Miami beginning on November 14, 2015.

From the ship's eye-catching hull artwork to thrilling waterslides and ropes course, Norwegian Escape, as the first ship in the Breakaway Plus Class, represents a true evolution for the Norwegian brand, incorporating guest favourites and providing further freedom and flexibility for guests.

Harmony Of The Seas To Debut New Aquatic Park For Kids
Royal Caribbean International will amp up the adventure when the cruise line debuts Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship and the first to feature Splashaway Bay an interactive aqua park for kids. The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea touting a 100 foot dramatic plunge, The Perfect Storm trio of water slides and Splashaway Bay are the latest in a thrilling collection of activities that will make Harmony of the Seas the ultimate family vacation experience starting next summer.

Harmony Of The Seas To Debut New Aquatic Park For KidsHarmony of the Seas will be the first in a new generation of Oasis class ships where groundbreaking architectural innovations are combined with breakthrough technologies of the Quantum class. The ship will debut in May 2016 for her inaugural summer season showcasing Europe's most popular cruise destinations on seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries calling on Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy. In November 2016, Harmony will arrive to her homeport of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. offering seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings.

Splashaway Bay will be a vibrant waterscape for kids and toddlers with sea creature water cannons, winding slides, a gigantic drench bucket and a multi-platform jungle-gym to keep everyone entertained for hours. Guests of all ages will get the ultimate heart-pounding thrill ride on the Ultimate Abyss, a 10 story slide that begins in the Pool and Sports Zone at the aft of the ship down to the Boardwalk neighborhood below. Spiraling five decks above the lushly landscaped, open-air Central Park in the center of the ship, water slides Supercell, Typhoon and Cyclone come together as The Perfect Storm, inviting travelers to slide into an incredible adventure. Thrill seekers can test their mettle in Supercell, featuring a champagne bowl swirling guests around as they descend into their approach towards a big splash finale.

Harmony of the Seas will be home to the seven distinct neighborhoods for which Oasis class of ships is known and feature technological advancements now synonymous with the award-winning cruise line. Revolutionary features include the Bionic Bar dancing robot bartenders on the Royal Promenade; Virtual Balconies in many interior staterooms offering sea and port views; the Royal WOWBands with RFID technology to simplify the guest experience; and VOOM, the fastest internet at sea found exclusively on Royal Caribbean ships. Catering to every craving, Harmony will offer the most dining options at sea, including new specialty restaurants Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, Sabor Taqueria and Tequila Bar, and Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, a whimsical setting where Royal Caribbean chefs twist their culinary kaleidoscopes.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 guest decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,497 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean's exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. For more information about Harmony of the Seas

Montréal Celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Ocean Liner Marco Polo
On August 13, Marco Polo returned to the Port of Montréal for a 24-hour visit. To celebrate its arrival and 50th anniversary, the Montréal Cruise Committee encouraged Montrealers and tourists to come to the Old Port's boardwalk at 8:15 a.m., when the ship was scheduled to arrive with 750 guests and 220 crew members aboard. To welcome the Marco Polo, there was a water show, with jets sprayed from tugboats owned by Ocean Group.

Montréal Celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Ocean Liner Marco PoloIn 1965, Germany's Wismar shipyard delivered to Russia a cruise ship named after the celebrated Russian poet Alexandr Pushkin. This ship completed transatlantic voyages travelling from Leningrad to Montréal, with stops in Helsinki, Copenhagen, London and Québec City. It would be the beginning of a long love affair between the ship and Montréal, as the Alexandr Pushkin visited Montréal 114 times in all. Its final trip to Montréal was on August 18, 1980.

"Like probably thousands of Quebecers, I have family members who had the chance to travel on the Alexandr Pushkin. Now, I'm delighted to welcome back this ship that played an important role in Montréal's cruise industry for 15 years," said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Port of Montréal.

Since cruise season began, the Port of Montréal has already welcomed some 25,000 cruise ship passengers and crew members, and by the time the season closes on October 29, this number is expected to be as high 90,000. This encouraging projection is more than 27% higher than last year, when 56,466 passengers and 14,578 crew members stopped in Montréal.

"We're anticipating a record high this year, as 19 internationally renowned ships have scheduled stops in Montréal. The fact that all these cruise lines choose to include our city on their itineraries proves that Montréal is a destination of choice for tourists from around the world. This year, a total of 77 stopovers are expected, up from 52 last year. I'm pleased to report that Montréal has the wind in its sails and we're on our way to achieving our ambitious targets for the year," said Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal.

Supported by Tourisme Québec, the Montréal Cruise Committee works closely with the Montréal Port Authority and Tourisme Montréal, as well as five other local organizations: Aéroports de Montréal, the Old Port of Montréal Corporation, the Old Montréal Business Development Corporation, and the Hotel Association of Greater Montréal. The committee's objective is to attract new cruise lines to Montréal while encouraging those that already stop here to come more frequently and stay longer once they're here.

Princess Cruises Introduces Specialty Restaurant SHARE
Princess Cruises unveiled SHARE by Curtis Stone, his first restaurant at sea, last night at an event in Los Angeles. SHARE offers an exclusive specialty dining experience for guests with a menu of signature dishes imagined for sharing, in an environment designed for conversing and creating memories. SHARE is scheduled to debut aboard Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess this December.

Princess Cruises Introduces Specialty Restaurant SHAREPreviously announced, this exclusive partnership with Chef Stone adds to the line’s “come back new” brand promise, designed to elevate the onboard guest experience by introducing new culinary offerings dedicated to fresh, flavorful cuisine aboard all ships. As part of the partnership, “Crafted by Curtis” menu items offered in the main dining rooms will debut aboard Golden Princess in the fall and roll out fleet-wide through the end of 2015. Curtis Stone’s Chef’s Table experience will debut in early 2016.

The SHARE dining experience encourages connecting with family, friends and other cruisers by offering intriguing dishes served family style. Designed by Chef Stone, the menu features dishes such as a Charcuterie starter course; Butter Roasted Lobster with Caramelized Endive and Endive Foam; Twice Cooked Duck Leg with Fennel, Bacon jus and Parmesan Crumb; Tagliatelle with Roasted Alaskan Crab, Chili and Parsley; and Dark Chocolate Cremeux with Toasted Hazelnut Feuilletine and Burnt Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Working closely with Chef Stone and Princess Cruises, world-renowned hospitality designer Jeffrey Beers International has developed a dining ambiance that is a reflection of Chef Stone’s creative vision and stems from his own childhood mealtime experiences, which were as much about family, community and connection as they were about the food itself. By creating a restaurant with a comfortable, homey atmosphere, the design allows for the important things in life to take center stage - people, and the activity of creating shared moments with one another over a delicious meal.

A signature feature of SHARE is a communal table designed to encourage the sharing of a freshly prepared meal in the company of friends and family. Hand blown glass pendants etched with some of Chef Stone’s favorite recipes cast an intimate glow and create a warm and celebratory experience. Elements not often seen in cruise ship restaurant interiors add to the friendly atmosphere - low-backed banquettes, beautifully upholstered in luxe Chesterfield tufted leather and decorative curios from Chef Stone’s own collection including photographs and travel souvenirs make guests feel even more at home.

”We’re honored that Princess Cruises is the home of Curtis Stone’s first restaurant at sea,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises President. “We know our guests will enjoy the menu Chef Stone has created for SHARE and we’re sure they will also feel right at home dining in his new restaurant, just like we hope they always feel on a Princess cruise vacation. SHARE is an exciting new enhancement adding to our guest experience intended to fulfill our ‘come back new’ brand promise.”

“It’s only natural that my first restaurant at sea is named SHARE, as sharing food family-style with family and good friends is the most enjoyable way to eat,” said Chef Stone. “I love the process of passing plates amongst each other and creating meaningful connections through the food and conversation. I’ve worked feverishly to create elegant, tasty dishes that I’m really proud to serve in a beautiful and relaxed environment, and I’m excited that SHARE is set to become a special part of people’s holiday memories and experience at sea.”

Following the debut of SHARE aboard Ruby Princess sailing from Los Angeles on cruises to Hawaii and Mexico and Emerald Princess sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean this December, the rollout will continue aboard Coral Princess cruising the Panama Canal in January 2016 and then Sun Princess in April 2016, which will bring Chef Stone’s restaurant to his home country, Australia.

Options Abound Ashore For Crystal Yacht Esprit Guests
Crystal Yacht Cruises, the most recent intimate travel experience from the world's most awarded cruise line, is charting new waters beginning with the maiden voyage of Crystal Esprit this winter. As Crystal's latest venture embarks on December 23, 2015, discerning luxury travelers can dive into the destinations – and the waters between them – with dozens of thrilling Crystal Adventures ashore, some of which are offered complimentary. The yacht's maiden voyage offers an inclusive post- and pre-cruise New Year's Eve Extravaganza in Dubai, complete with three- or four-night accommodations at the extraordinary Dubai Taj Hotel and spectacular fireworks display.

Options Abound Ashore For Crystal Yacht Esprit GuestsThe extravagantly appointed yacht will be outfitted for adventure, and is set to call in ports never before visited by Crystal's acclaimed ocean vessels, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, which affords great opportunity for the line's savvy globetrotting guests to gain new travel perspectives while enjoying the same standard of luxury service for which Crystal is lauded. This includes adventures on the beaches, mountains, waters and skies of each locale, expertly designed with yacht travelers in mind.

"Yacht travelers expect all of the fine nuances that make a Crystal vacation extraordinary, but with a more intimate, personalized feel. The Crystal Adventures offered with Crystal Esprit's voyages will satisfy – and surpass – this expectation, with most options available only with Crystal Yacht Cruises," says Crystal President & CEO, Edie Rodriguez.

On itineraries throughout the Indian Ocean/Seychelles, Mediterranean/Adriatic Coast, Holy Land and Middle East/Persian Gulf, Crystal Esprit will feature shore-side options to suit virtually any interest, with an emphasis on doing more. Among the options are:

Deep-sea fishing off the coast of Desroches, Seychelles, for the chance to make an exotic catch of Barracuda, Wahoo, Dogtooth and Yellowfin tuna and Giant and Bluefin Trevally;

One-tank scuba dive in St. Anne Island, Seychelles, geared toward certified divers, who can immerse themselves in the underwater world of shipwrecks, giant rock formations and spectacular sea life;

Rafting down the Krupa and Zrmanja Rivers in Zadar, Croatia, two of the most beautiful waterways in Europe, then picnicking in Muskovac;

Quad adventures on the rugged trails of Cyprus, taking adventurers to secluded spots most visitors don't even know exist, with views of waterfalls and swimming at the Baths of Adonis; and

Trek to Delphi at Mount Parnassus in Itea, Greece, the imposing and sacred site once thought to be the center of the earth.

Every Crystal Esprit itinerary will also offer at least one complimentary excursion in every port, including hiking and rafting the Acheron River in Parga, Greece; ziplining through the dense forest in Ephelia (from Mahe, Seychelles); and exploring the medieval city of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia (from Piran). "In-transit" excursions allow guests combining itineraries to fully maximize their time in embarkation/disembarkation ports between voyages.

To celebrate the inauguration of Crystal Esprit, Crystal will be offering two inclusive land programs for guest who would like to extend their vacation and even ring in the New Year with Crystal. These programs include:

Seychelles' Inclusive Dubai Program, a 2-night, pre-cruise experience inclusive with every Seychelles voyage, giving guests the opportunity to explore the wonders of Dubai, from haute couture shopping malls and traditional gold souks to desert safaris, world-class golf and complimentary entrance to the Wild Wadi Water Park.

New Year's Eve Dubai Extravaganza, 3 or 4- night program offered to guests who sail on one of the first two Crystal Esprit sailings, includes an uninterrupted view of the spectacular Burj Khalifa New Year's Eve Extravaganza, where the world's tallest building lights up in a dazzling presentation of light and pyrotechnics. Offered 3-nights post-cruise on the yacht's December 23, 2015 maiden voyage, and 4-nights pre-cruise on the inaugural 2016 voyage.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.89 + 1.28%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 90.48 - 0.12%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.70 + 1.12
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 60.12 - 3.03%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
October 25, 1986 was the end of an era for Cunard Line. What was the significance of that date?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
At which popluar Caribbean cruise stop can passengers literally go to Hell?

Answer - You can visit the town of Hell on Grand Cayman Island.
courtesy of Nick Weatherbee, Orlando, FL


Cruise News - August 10, 2015

Crystal River Cruises To Launch In March 2017
On the heels of last month's announcement, including Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Cruises unveiled today more detailed plans for its collection of two Crystal river yacht vessels, which will be launched in Europe starting in late March 2017. The new series of vessels will boast a yacht-like design featuring larger accommodations and space-to-guest ratio than any other river cruise ship, and include Crystal's signature all-inclusive six-star service, plus a fresh approach to the traditional river itineraries and experiences.

Crystal River Cruises To Launch In March 2017"We continue to listen to what our guests and the luxury traveler want, and river cruises are what they've been telling us they want for some time – it's a natural extension of the exceptional ocean cruise Crystal has offered for the past 25 years," says Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. "But more importantly, they want to experience river cruises on a luxury Crystal vessel, and their desires will be fulfilled on our luxury Crystal river yachts."

The 70-suite luxury river yachts, which will be built by German shipyard Lloyd Werft, will surpass current and planned river boats or ships, and be the first in the industry to feature exceptional amenities and itinerary highlights including:

• 250 square-foot guest suites with walk-in wardrobes, American king size beds and bathrooms with double vanities

• Two 500 square-foot Penthouse Suites with added comforts and conveniences

• Spacious public areas, including Palm Court with dance floor and glass domed roof and a well-appointed fitness center and spa

Itineraries, fares and bookings for Crystal River Cruises will be available beginning December 1, 2015.

Taking advantage of its large suites to avoid multiple packing and unpacking with pre and post hotel stays as it is common with other river operators, Crystal's new river vessels will deploy itineraries that maximize time in port for meaningful shore-side excursions and experiences. This will afford Crystal guests virtually front-row access to some of Europe's most charming cities and always guarantee the award-winning Crystal service and dining experiences without the hassle and uncertainties of local hotel services and standards. Crystal's itineraries will also intentionally deviate from traditional river cruise routes to avoid congestion of other vessels in port.

Crystal will dedicate a portion of each cruise to sailing along some of the most picturesque rivers in central Europe – including destinations such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria – during daytime hours, allowing travelers to relish the extraordinary scenery. This timing also affords guests the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife in select destinations with port overnights, which will often present inclusive culinary experiences ashore at Michelin-starred restaurants and local eateries, and exclusive evening events and entertainment.

"The beauty of river cruising is not only that travelers enjoy close-up access to more fascinating inland locales, but also that the rivers themselves are coveted destinations that shouldn't be overlooked," says Rodriguez. "Our guests will have the opportunity to revel in the unique environment that sets river cruising apart from other travel experiences."

During days spent in port, Crystal River Cruises will offer guests a bevy of the immersive Crystal Adventures as well as launch its newest shore-side program called Active Exploration Adventures. Tailored for guests wanting a high-intensity shore-side activity, Crystal is offering a complimentary active excursion for guests to explore the splendid European landscapes while staying fit on their vacation. Travelers may also choose to create their own active adventures using the many bicycles (electric or manual), Segways and other active gear available on the ship for independent exploration. A luxury yacht tender will also be available for private yachting experiences that take guests to even more secluded areas within the destinations.

Royal Caribbean Announces Royal Suite Class
Royal Caribbean today announced the Royal Suite Class, designed for the most discerning adventurers. When vacationing in one of a range of innovative accommodations, guests will enjoy an experience like no other featuring a wide-range of benefits and amenities that they expect from a world-class luxury vacation.

Royal Caribbean Announces Royal Suite Class“The new Royal Suite Class redefines luxury at sea with exceptional experiences that discriminating travelers will appreciate,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We offer some of the most amazing and unique suites aboard the most revolutionary ships, and with Royal Suite Class we are creating an experience that is both inviting and invigorating for guests seeking a luxurious adventure that is anything but boring.”

Along with well-appointed accommodations, Royal Suite Class will offer a range of exclusive amenities based on three tiered service levels. Premium features include a Royal Genie, certified by the British Butler Institute to meet guests every need; free VOOM, the fastest internet at sea; complimentary specialty dining; an ultimate beverage package; inclusive gratuities; preferred seating at select onboard venues, and upgraded room amenities.

The Royal Suite Class will be available for sailings beginning May 2016 aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis- and Quantum-class ships, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas, as well as Harmony of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas when they debut in spring 2016.

The Royal Suite Class comprises three service levels based on suite category: Star Class, Sky Class and Sea Class.

• The Star Class includes the most comprehensive collection of amenities and services and the most expansive and richly appointed accommodations, such as Quantum-class’ two-deck high Royal Loft Suite, along with the Owner’s Loft Suite, Four Bedroom Family Suite, Grand Loft Suite, Sky Loft Suite and Two Bedroom AquaTheater Suite.

• The Sky Class features a selection of inclusive amenities in beautifully furnished staterooms such as the AquaTheater Suite, Crown Loft Suite, Owner’s Suite, Royal Family Suite, Superior Grand Suite and Grand Suite.

• The Sea Class includes premium touches in spacious suites such as the Family Connected Junior Suite, Family Junior Suite, Spa Junior Suite and Junior Suite.

Guests booked in the Royal Suite Class will experience a range of exclusive offerings based on their suite category that include:

• Superior Service: a ‘first’ for Royal Caribbean, Star Class guests will receive the new and complimentary Royal Genie service. The Royal Genie trained and certified by the British Butler Institute, will serve as a personal assistant to help guests with nearly everything and anything, 24 hours a day. Royal Genies take care of restaurant and show reservations, in-room dining requests, and any other needs – from laundry, pressing and shoe shining, to luggage handling and unpacking. In addition, the Royal Genie will pamper guests with handcrafted cocktails made in-suite as well as assist in creating and reserving customized shore excursions.

• Upgraded Amenities: guests in the Royal Suite Class will enjoy the ultimate ‘home away from home’ with upgraded amenities, such as Hermès, Ferragamo and L’OCCITANE bath products and luxury pillow top mattresses. Star Class guests will luxuriate in their suites with exclusive Duxiana DUX mattresses and Frette linens.

• Personalized Experiences: luxury is defined by personal experiences and onboard a Royal Caribbean ship it is embodied by the crew and unmatched tailored service – from a personalized welcome gift to a guest’s favorite cocktail before dinner, guests will feel as if all their personal preferences have been met.

• Exclusive and Priority Access: Royal Suite Class guests also will have exclusive access to the California-chic Coastal Kitchen restaurant reserved for Suite guests only. On Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise Labadee, Haiti suite guests enjoy access to the exclusive Barefoot Beach and have the ability to reserve private cabanas on the island.

Additionally, Star and Sky Class guests enjoy a private Suite Sun Deck and reserved VIP seating in entertainment productions, like fully licensed Broadway musicals and Oasis-class’ AquaTheater high-diving spectaculars.

Carnival's Enhanced Internet Access To Be Rolled Out Fleetwide by Early 2016
Carnival Cruise Line's new social media Internet packages – which offer access to a variety of popular Web sites for just $5 a day – are now available on more than half of the line's ships with fleetwide implementation scheduled by the first quarter of 2016.

Additionally, the line's new mobile app – currently available on Carnival Breeze and offering an innovative Additionally, the line's new mobile app – currently available on Carnival Breeze and offering an innovative "chat" feature – has been very well received with a third of the ship's guests actively using the app during their cruise. The app is expected to be available on five additional ships by the end of the year and be fleetwide by summer 2016.

"Fast, affordable and reliable social media channels and the Internet have become essential on today's cruise ships," said Gabriela Gonzalez, Carnival's vice president of guest technology. "We have thoughtfully approached this area to ensure we are providing options that guests sailing throughout our fleet find truly valuable and reliable," she added.

Currently available on 13 ships, Carnival's enhanced Internet access offers dramatically increased bandwidth and speed while the cruise industry's first social media package provides unlimited access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other popular sites for just $5 per day with discounted plans available for the entire cruise.

Unlike other shipboard Internet packages, Carnival's social media package is unique in that it allows guests a convenient, flexible and highly affordable option for updating their favorite social media channels during their cruise at one low price.

There's also a "value" plan that includes unlimited access to the Web for checking email, sports scores, weather updates and a wide range of other applications, and a "premium" package that provides the fastest available connection speed and allows access to video calling sites like Skype.

The new Carnival HUB mobile app currently on Carnival Breeze provides guests with a convenient, at-a-glance view of the ship's many facilities and features along with updates on events and happenings taking place on board, all available free of charge. Available for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, the app also includes an innovative "chat" feature that allows guests to exchange messages with their traveling companions using their mobile devices for a flat fee of $5 for the entire cruise.

The app also includes day-by-day schedules of hundreds of on-board events, information on food and beverage venues, searchable deck plans, itinerary details, Sail & Sign account balance and more. Recently added options include the ability to pre-purchase the line's Cheers! and Bottomless Bubbles beverage programs and upload photos to be displayed on Carnival Breeze's 270-square-foot Seaside Theatre during the voyage. Additional features are scheduled to be added in the future.

Cruise Lines International Association New President Resigns
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today announced that Thomas P. Ostebo who recently joined CLIA as President and CEO on July 6th has stepped down from the position immediately, due to personal reasons.

Cruise Lines International Association New President ResignsIn the interim, Cindy D'Aoust, Executive Vice President of Membership and Operations, will assume the role of acting CEO and oversee the management of global operations and the CLIA leadership teams until CLIA appoints a permanent CEO.

"CLIA's current leadership team is doing an outstanding job supporting our membership and driving the vision of the organization globally, even during this time of transition," said Global CLIA Chairman Adam M. Goldstein, President and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "While it is unfortunate that Tom is departing CLIA, his desire to put his family first is a testament to his character, and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors."

When CLIA announced that Ostebo had been hired back in May they noted that he had more than 30 years of experience leading large, sophisticated and complex organizations. He joined CLIA from the United States Coast Guard where he served as Rear Admiral. Most recently, Ostebo was Director of Strategic Management where he supported strategy and budget policy for the Coast Guard. Ostebo also served as Commander for the Coast Guard 17th District and led all Coast Guard Operations in Alaska, the Arctic and North Pacific where he was responsible for protecting life and property, enforcing federal laws and treaties, preserving the living marine resources and promoting national security.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.42 + 0.38%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 92.04 + 1.60%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.72 + 1.87
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 61.42 - 0.94%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
At which popluar Caribbean cruise stop can passengers literally go to Hell?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the largest cruise ship to pass through the Panama Canal?

Answer - The largest ship to pass through the Panama Canal is NCL's Norwegian Jewel.
courtesy of Barry McLeish


Cruise News - August 3, 2015

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils Global Deployment Expansion
Norwegian Cruise Line today announced exciting and exotic new itineraries for the brand's Fall/Winter 2016/2017 deployment, bringing the world to guests who want to explore new sights while experiencing the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can offer. Norwegian offers guests new destinations and new ports to choose from in 2016 and 2017, including cruises to Asia onboard Norwegian Star, with itineraries departing from Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Auckland—marking the line's return to the Asia and Australia regions for the first time since Norwegian Wind Fall/Winter 2001-2002 and first-ever visits to The Gulf and India. Norwegian Epic will continue to spend her summers in Europe and return to the US in the fall as Norwegian's newest and largest ship to homeport in Port Canaveral, offering three-, four- and seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries. Exploring South America by sea will now be more accessible than ever with Norwegian, with a number of itineraries ranging in length from seven to 20 nights, with embarkations in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Norwegian Spirit will return to homeport in Europe year-round, sailing through the Eastern and Western Mediterranean with departures from Barcelona, Istanbul and Venice. In addition, Norwegian Jade will now sail seasonally in the winter months from Tampa to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, while Norwegian Jewel will sail two new 14-day Panama Canal sailings from Los Angeles and Miami in February 2016 and two in February 2017. Norwegian's new itineraries will be available for booking later this month. Caribbean sailings will open on August 19 and all other destinations on August 24.

Norwegian Cruise Line Unveils Global Deployment Expansion"We are truly excited to offer these incredible new itineraries to our guests, who now have the opportunity to explore areas of the globe that we haven't called on in many years and some that we've never before visited," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian's president and chief operating officer. "Norwegian is taking guests to their dream destinations, where they can indulge in new tastes, new cultures and new experiences, along with the flexibility to unpack once and the freedom to explore many distinct destinations during one vacation-of-a-lifetime."

Asia and Australia
In the fall of 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line will cruise to the Far East for the first time since fall/winter 2001-2002, with the recently renovated Norwegian Star sailing to the region for several unique itineraries that also feature first-ever visits to The Gulf and India. Norwegian Star will continue to spend her summer 2016 months cruising the Baltic Capitals from Copenhagen, Denmark. After her journey through the Western Mediterranean, Norwegian Star will depart on October 31, 2016 from Istanbul on the brand's first voyage to the Gulf region through the Suez Canal for a 20-day Eastern Mediterranean and The Gulf itinerary with stops in Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Rhodes, Greece; overnight in Haifa, Israel; Port Said, Sharm El Sheikh and Safaga, Egypt; Aqaba, Jordan; Salalah and Muscat, Oman; and an overnight in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

On November 20, 2016, Norwegian Star will sail a 21-day Journey to the East from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Singapore, featuring the brand's first visit to India with an overnight in Mumbai and stops in Goa (Mormugao), Mangalore and Kochi (Cochin). Additional ports of call include Fujairah and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Muscat and Khasab, Oman; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Phuket, Thailand; Penang, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Malaysia; and Singapore.

Throughout December 2016 and January 2017, Norwegian Star will do a series of 11- and 14-day sailings in Southeast Asia, departing from Singapore and Hong Kong respectively. Norwegian Star's 11-day Southeast Asia itineraries departing from Singapore on December 11, 2016 and January 5, 2017 feature ports of call in Ko Samui and an overnight in Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) and Nha Trang, Vietnam; Sanya and Hong Kong, China. Guests who sail on the ship's 14-day Southeast Asia itinerary from Hong Kong on December 22, 2016 will celebrate the holidays with calls in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Hanoi (Ha Long Bay), Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; an overnight stay in Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and a day visit to Ko Samui, Thailand; and Singapore.

On January 16, 2017, Norwegian Star will sail a 21-day Southeast Asia and Australia itinerary from Hong Kong, China to Sydney, Australia. Ports of call include Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam; Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand; Singapore; Bali (Benoa) and Komodo, Indonesia; Darwin, Cairns, Airlie Beach, and Brisbane, Australia.

Norwegian Star will sail a 12-day Australia and New Zealand sailing on February 6, 2017 from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. Ports of call for this adventure down under include Melbourne and Burnie, Australia; and Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier and Tauranga, New Zealand. Norwegian Star will also sail a 19-day Australia and New Zealand thrill-filled itinerary from Auckland, New Zealand to Singapore departing February 18, 2017. Ports of call include: Bay of Islands, New Zealand; Sydney, Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Darwin, Australia; and Komodo and Bali (Benoa), Indonesia; and Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang), Malaysia.

Norwegian Star will begin her journey back to the West with an 18-day Southeast Asia and India sailing from Singapore to Dubai, departing March 9, 2017. Ports of Call include Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), and Penang, Malaysia; Phuket, Thailand; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Kochi (Cochin), Mangalore, Mumbai and Goa (Mormugao), India; Muscat and Khasab, Oman; Fujairah and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Rounding out her season in the Far East will be a 20-day Eastern Mediterranean and The Gulf sailing from Dubai, United Arab Emirates through the Suez Canal to Venice, Italy departing March 27, 2017. Ports of call on this Western-bound journey include Fujairah, United Arab Emirates; Muscat and Salalah, Oman; Aqaba, Jordan; Safaga and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; an overnight in Haifa, Israel; a stop in Iraklion, Crete, Greece; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and finally, an overnight stay in Venice, Italy.

Caribbean & Bahamas
After more than a year in Europe, Norwegian Epic will return to Florida in November 2016 and will become the line's largest ship to homeport from Port Canaveral. Norwegian will offer Freestyle Cruising at its finest aboard Norwegian Epic with a series of Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries ranging in length from three, four, six and seven days—a sure opportunity to fit any schedule or itinerary preference.

Norwegian Epic's seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary will be a beach-lover's paradise with stops in Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. Guests can choose to soak-up the sun or opt for an adventurous land-based activity on Norwegian Epic's Western Caribbean itinerary, featuring stops in Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. Norwegian Epic will offer guests who may not have the time to get away for a week-long vacation the perfect opportunity for a quick escape in January and March 2017 with three- and four-day Bahamas itineraries with stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay.

Norwegian Jade will replace Norwegian Star and homeport from Tampa from November 2016 through April 2017 and sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary departing on Sundays to Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan (Bay Islands), Honduras; and Norwegian's new Caribbean destination experience, Harvest Caye, Belize. In addition, Norwegian Jade will also sail two eight-day Western Caribbean holiday sailings in December 2016. Guests aboard these two cruises will enjoy the holidays under the sun with ports of call in Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan (Bay Islands) Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala.

Norwegian Jade guests can explore further into the Caribbean with two 10-day and two 11-day Eastern Caribbean cruises from Tampa. Marking the first time Norwegian has offered sailings longer than one week to the Caribbean from Tampa, Norwegian Jade's 10-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary departing January 15 and March 19 will visit Key West, Florida; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. John's, Antigua; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Norwegian will call in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the first time aboard Norwegian Jade's 11-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary departing January 25 and March 29; additional ports of call include Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands or Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Europe
Norwegian will continue to offer a four-ship deployment in Europe during the summer of 2016. Norwegian Spirit will replace Norwegian Epic as the brand's year-round European ship, while Norwegian Star will sail the Mediterranean and Western Europe in the fall of 2016 en-route to the Far East.

Norwegian Star will begin her journey south with a 14-day Western Europe sailing from Copenhagen, Denmark to Barcelona, Spain departing on September 28, 2016. Guests will have the freedom and flexibility to taste, touch, shop and feel the flavors of Europe with ports including Oslo, Norway; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Brussels/Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium; Paris (Le Havre) and Bordeaux (Le Verdon), France; Seville (Cadiz), Valencia, and the line's first call in Gijon, Spain; as well as a call in Lisbon, Portugal.

Norwegian Star will sail an 11-day Classic Mediterranean itinerary from Barcelona to Istanbul in October 12, 2016. Highlighting some of Europe's most sought-after destinations including Palma, Majorca, Spain; Marseille, France; Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples and Taormina (Sicily), Italy; Athens (Piraeus) and Mykonos, Greece; and overnight in Istanbul, Turkey.

Norwegian will return to the Holy Lands for the first time since 2013 with one eight-day Eastern Mediterranean and Holy Lands sailing round-trip from Istanbul aboard Norwegian Star departing October 23, 2016. Guests will marvel at the spiritual and natural wonders of the region with stops in Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; overnight in Haifa, Israel; Alanya, Turkey; and Rhodes, Greece.

Norwegian will offer two additional opportunities for guests to visit this incredible region, with two 11-day Eastern Mediterranean and Holy Lands sailings aboard Norwegian Spirit. The voyages will depart November 28, 2016 and April 12, 2017 on a port-packed itinerary from Venice to Istanbul with three overnight stops in Venice, Italy; Haifa, Israel; and Istanbul, Turkey. In addition, the itinerary will feature ports of call in Zadar, Croatia; Iraklion (Crete), Mykonos and Rhodes, Greece; and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey.

Norwegian Spirit will offer a series of seven-, 10- and 11-day Eastern and Western Mediterranean sailings from November 2016 to May 2017 departing from Barcelona, Venice, and Istanbul—marking the first time in many years that Norwegian has offered the opportunity for guests to embark a ship in the Turkish city. Ports of call vary by sailing depending on length but include Zadar, Croatia; Iraklion, Crete, Athens (Piraeus) and Rhodes, Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Naples, Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Palermo, Sicily and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Palma, Majorca, and Valencia Spain; Marseilles, France; and Valletta, Malta.

On December 27, 2016 and March 12, 2017 Norwegian Spirit will sail a 10-Day Canary Islands and Morocco itinerary. Her stops will include Tangier, Morocco; Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Funchal, Madeira; and Granada (Malaga) and Alicante, Spain.

Panama Canal
In addition to Norwegian's previously scheduled Panama Canal deployment featuring two 14-day cruises in February 2016, the line has added two new 14-day Panama Canal sailings from Los Angeles and Miami on Norwegian Jewel, on February 5 and February 19, 2017 respectively. The mirrored itineraries feature ports of call including Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Corinto, Nicaragua; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and will feature a bucket-list item: a daytime transit through the wondrous Panama Canal.

South America
As previously announced, Norwegian Sun will return to South America for the winter season in 2016 and 2017. During this season, Norwegian will offer a variety of sailings through South America with departures from new homeport Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as from Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Guests will experience adventures great and small with a South America sailing aboard Norwegian Sun. Norwegian will offer 10-day South America itineraries departing from Buenos Aires, Argentina and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in December 2016, February and March 2017, where guests can soak up the vibrant South American culture with ports of call including an overnight stay on select sailings in Buenos Aires, Argentina; stops in Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay; and Sao Paolo (Santos), Ilha Grande and Buzios, Brazil, with an overnight stay in Rio De Janeiro.

Those looking to experience the majesty of the holidays at sea can do so aboard Norwegian Sun's South America 14-day Buenos Aires Round-Trip sailing departing December 23, 2016. The holiday sailing is sure to bring "boas festas," happy holidays, to all aboard with an overnight stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the best of Brazil with stops in Sao Paolo (Santos), Ilha Grande, Buzios, Angre dos Reis and an overnight stay in Rio de Janeiro; along with Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Norwegian will offer four South America 15-day itineraries between Santiago (Valparaiso) and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The East-bound itineraries depart from Santiago (Valparaiso) on January 21 and March 9, 2017 while the West-bound depart from Buenos Aires, Argentina on February 22 and April 10. These spectacular journeys feature calls in Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt, Chile; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Montevideo, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia, Argentina; with an overnight in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During these eastbound cruises, guests will also cruise the Patagonic Channels, majestic Chilean Fjords, sail the famous Strait of Magellan; Beagle Channel and the spectacular Cape Horn.

Those who may only have one week for a quick South American getaway can opt for Norwegian Sun's South America seven-day Buenos Aires, Argentina to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil sailings on February 5 and March 24, 2017. This weeklong itinerary offers a snap shot of Eastern South America with ports of call in Sao Paolo (Santos) and Ilha Grande, Brazil; and Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Norwegian Sun will make her journey back to the Northern Hemisphere with a South America 20-day Santiago (Valparaiso), Chile to San Francisco sailing departing April 25, 2017. Guests on this voyage can experience a myriad of cultures with ports of call in Central America's quaintest cities and opt for a shore excursion to the mystical Machu Picchu from Arica, Chile. Ports of call for on this northern-bound adventure include Coquimbo and Arica, Chile; Lima (Callao) and Trujillo (Salaverry), Peru; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Corinto, Nicaragua; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Guests can also choose to extend their South American exploration with a Cruisetour, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore this region's culture and spectacular destinations such as Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and Easter Island.

Seabourn Reveals More Seabourn Encore Features
Seabourn has revealed the rendering of one of the most distinct onboard venues aboard its newest ultra-luxury vessel, Seabourn Encore, debuting in December 2016: the Grand Salon. Custom tailored with striking elements by design icon Adam D. Tihany, who is designing all of the indoor and outdoor areas aboard Seabourn Encore, the main show lounge will present a sophisticated setting for onboard performances, from new shows by seasoned entertainers to local, cultural productions from ashore and engaging guest speakers from the line's popular enrichment series, Seabourn Conversations, such as legendary American journalist Dan Rather and Forbes Media Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes.

Seabourn Reveals More Seabourn Encore FeaturesLocated on Deck Six and accessible via the main staircase, the Grand Salon will feature a layout and design that is both elegant and inviting. The lounge will showcase a dramatic, expansive theater with plush, pivoting chairs that are arrayed in cabaret style seating to ensure the audience is close to the performers. Sculpture panels and lineal lights compose the sweeping ceiling, while an enlarged bar pantry sits in the back to serve guests.

"Providing enriching and engaging entertainment is a hallmark Seabourn offering, and the Grand Salon is the best venue to feature our diverse selection of entertainment options aboard the world's most beautiful ultra-luxury ship," said John Delaney, Seabourn's senior vice president, marketing and sales.

Like Seabourn Encore itself, the Grand Salon's program schedule will be in constant motion, inviting guests to migrate throughout the day for events that suit their mood. During the days and occasionally after dinner, the lounge will be the setting for lectures from guest speakers, cooking demonstrations, comedy, classical recitals and more. Most evenings will feature dancing before dinner on the Grand Salon's main dance floor, and following dinner will include vocal production shows and cabaret performances and more.

Seabourn Encore will feature modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Port of Montreal to Install Shore Power for Cruise Ship Terminal
Montreal Port Authority, announced this week that it was proceeding with new funding for the installation of shore power at the Port of Montreal.

Port of Montreal to Install Shore Power for Cruise Ship TerminalShore power is a highly effective way to reduce marine diesel air emissions. Shore power improves local air quality by enabling ships to shut down their engines and connect to the electrical grid in order to provide necessary power while docked.

In the announcement, Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO, Montreal Port Authority said "I warmly thank the governments of Canada and Quebec for their generous contribution to this shore power project, which will significantly reduce GHG emissions at the Port of Montreal. For us, sustainable development is an approach that rises above the obligation to conform to various environmental laws and regulations. We are committed to always evaluate options that will improve our environmental footprint, and this project is a concrete and significant example of this approach."

Two types of systems will be installed at the Port of Montreal with this project. One is a shore power connection for cruise ships at the Alexandra Pier and the other is a four connection shore power system for wintering ships.

Total greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions resulting from this project are expected to reach 2,800 tonnes annually – 1,300 tonnes from cruise ship connections and 1,500 tonnes from wintering ships.

The total cost of the project is $11M. The Government of Canada is providing up to $5M under its Shore Power Technology for Ports Program. The Government of Quebec is providing $3M and the Montreal Port Authority is providing the remaining $3M.

The Shore Power Technology for Ports Program is part of the Government of Canada's ongoing efforts to improve air quality and limit GHG emissions from the Canadian transportation sector. This program is financed by the Green Fund, under the portfolio of David Heurtel, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change. The fund's revenues are drawn mainly from the carbon market as part of the 2013-20 Action Plan on Climate Change and this fund has a $29.1M budget until March 31, 2017. For Quebec, this means a 1.368 tonne reduction in GHGs annually.

Shore power technology for ports, also called marine shore power, is a leading-edge technology that allows ships to plug into the local electrical grid to power the vessel while at port. This provides power to ship equipment such as electric pumps, lighting, and water heating, avoiding the use of auxiliary diesel engines which consume fuel, produce GHG and air pollutant emission.

Princess Cruises Debuts The Voice of the Ocean
Princess Cruises brings the excitement and spectacle of TV's wildly popular international singing competition to the high seas, live and on-stage, with The Voice of the Ocean. The show comes to life throughout the cruise with auditions, mentor rehearsal sessions, the iconic "I Want You" chairs, three charismatic team coaches and ultimately a live finale performance where guests choose the winner.

Princess Cruises Debuts The Voice of the OceanThe Voice of the Ocean singing competition experience aboard Princess Cruises includes:

• Karaoke try out sessions at the beginning of each cruise, for vocalists who are 16 years or older. There will be two opportunities to audition during open karaoke in one of the ships lounges or showrooms. Fellow guests and cruise staff will decide who moves on to compete.

• Selected singers are assigned a mentor who will meet with them during the cruise to rehearse with the Princess Band and back-up singers to prepare for the best possible performance. The mentors will be a Princess musical entertainer or vocalist.

• The Voice of the Ocean Live Show, hosted by the Cruise Director on the last night of the cruise will feature up to nine contestants performing in the Princess Theater for an audience that includes three high-profile team coaches that may include one of our guest entertainers, the Hotel General Manager or even the Captain. Just like the hit TV show, the trio of coaches will listen but not see the performer as they decide to turn their "I Want You" chair to choose the singer to be on their team. Once teams are chosen coaches will then each pick one finalist. From the three finalists, the audience votes for the winner who will be awarded a trophy and most importantly, the title The Voice of the Ocean.

"Whether guests are up on stage or in the audience deciding who gets their vote, we know The Voice of the Ocean will be a huge hit with Princess guests," said Adrian Fischer, vice president, entertainment for Princess Cruises. "Guests will feel like they are part of the globally popular TV show performing on a high tech set almost identical to the hit show, including rotating red chairs and a live Princess band with back-up singers. We're excited to discover and foster undiscovered talent and offer guests a whole new way to express their love of music and performing."

The vocal competition will debut aboard Regal Princess in October, followed by Royal Princess and Caribbean Princess in November. Eight additional ships will offer The Voice of the Ocean rolling out between January and May of 2016.

This new partnership adds to the cruise line's "come back new" brand promise, designed to elevate the guest experience by creating enriching moments and lifelong memories. For more information about The Voice of the Ocean, or to watch a pilot video shot aboard Star Princess, visit princess.com/voice.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.22 + 2.69%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 90.59 + 10.89%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.67 - 3.96%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 62.00 + 6.68%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the largest cruise ship to pass through the Panama Canal?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which cruise ship was the firs to feature an ice-skating rink and what year did this ship enter service?

Answer - Voyager of the Seas was the first cruise ship to have an ice-skating rink. She entered service in November 1999.
courtesy of Terry McNeil


Cruise News - July 27, 2015

Costa Cruises to Build Two 6,600 Passenger Cruise Ships
Carnival Corporation & plc the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced that its Italian brand, Costa Cruises, will build two new cruise ships as part of an agreement with Meyer Werft to construct four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the world. In June, Carnival Corporation announced the other two ships included in this multi-billion dollar contract are destined for its German brand, AIDA Cruises.

Costa Cruises to Build Two Next-Generation Cruise ShipsThe two new ships for Costa Cruises will be built by shipbuilder Meyer Werft at the company's shipyard in Turku, Finland, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020. Each new cruise ship will exceed 180,000 gross tons, offering more than 2,600 passenger cabins and 5,200 lower berths to comfortably accommodate a total capacity of 6,600 guests. A major part of Carnival Corporation's new ship design involves making more efficient use of the ship's spaces, which includes multi-functional common areas and plans for more personal space, creating an enhanced onboard guest experience.

Carnival Corporation's four next-generation cruise ships for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will be the first in the industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel, representing a major environmental breakthrough. Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, these new ships will use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship's power both in port and on the open sea – an industry-first innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support the company's aggressive sustainability goals.

The four-ship contract with Meyer Werft is part of a larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with leading shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri S.p.A for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022. As previously announced, construction of the two new ships for AIDA Cruises will take place at Meyer Werft's shipbuilding facility in Papenburg, Germany.

"These new ships will be phenomenal additions to our fleet, and we're looking forward to seeing our Costa and AIDA brands bring this ground-breaking new ship design to life for our guests in a way that is customized for each brand," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "As we continue enhancing our fleet, it is very important to us that every decision we make in the development of these new ships is about the guest experience, which supports our goal to exceed guest expectations and create great vacation memories for every person who boards one of our ships."

Donald added: "Above all, these strategic investments are designed to exceed the vacation needs of our guests, but it is also important to note that these next-generation ships are an important part of our measured growth strategy, which includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a very specific period of time."

The new Costa Cruises ships will prominently feature the brand's "Italy's finest" experience, with the new ship designs and creative uses of space serving to enhance the overall onboard immersion in Italian culture. The ships and crew will serve as ambassadors for the finest of Italian society on the seas, enabling guests to discover Italy's unique style, hospitality, entertainment and culinary excellence.

The new contract also supports the community-focused efforts of Carnival Corporation and Costa Cruises to invest in Italy as a key market in which the company operates. According to forecasts from Costa Cruises, more than 650 crewmembers are expected to be hired to work on the two new ships.

"We are honored that Carnival Corporation has entrusted us with the implementation of this ambitious shipbuilding program," said Bernard Meyer, CEO of Meyer Werft. "These ships represent the next generation of cruise ship innovation, featuring a revolutionary 'green cruising' design implemented to meet the specific needs of guests who sail with the Costa and AIDA brands."

The new ship order will also enable the Costa Group, which includes a combined 25 ships across the AIDA and Costa brands, to continue to build on its leadership position in the European cruise market. In 2014, one out of every two cruise guests in Europe, or about 50 percent, sailed onboard a Costa or AIDA cruise ship. In total, the Costa Group has 27,000 employees working onboard its ships and in its 20 offices in 14 countries, serving a total capacity of 68,000 beds across its fleet.

Carnival Corporation Expands Fleet in China
Carnival Corporation & plc today announced it will add two ships to its China fleet in 2016, making it the first global cruise company with six total ships based in China. The move will increase Carnival Corporation's total capacity in China by an additional 58 percent in 2016, further accelerating the company's leadership position in the growing Chinese market, which continually delivers double-digit annual returns and is expected to eventually become the largest cruise market in the world.

Carnival Corporation's fleet of six China-based ships will include expanded offerings from its two leading brands in the market – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises – that are each adding one new ship to meet growing cruise demand in China. Across the two brands, Carnival Corporation will have three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market, representing the largest cruise presence in China in 2016.

Together, the Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016, giving Chinese guests more choice and flexibility in both the contemporary and luxury segments. Based on the accelerating consumer demand for cruises in China, Carnival Corporation's added capacity is expected to significantly increase the company's total number of cruise passengers in China in 2016.

Princess Cruises will send its Golden Princess ship to northern China in 2016Included in this new deployment is today's announcement made during a press conference in Beijing that Princess Cruises will send its Golden Princess ship to northern China in 2016, sailing out of Tianjin on a seasonal basis, with itineraries visiting a variety of desirable destinations in northern Asia. Golden Princess joins the brand's first China-based ship, Sapphire Princess, which has been homeported in Shanghai since 2014 and will start sailing year-round in China in 2016. The brand's two-ship deployment in 2016 will more than double its total available guest capacity in China compared to 2015, putting Princess Cruises in an even stronger position to serve the luxury cruise segment with its exclusive Princess Class experience designed specifically for the Chinese market.

Costa Cruises, a leading cruise brand in China and the first global cruise brand to introduce cruising to the market in 2006, recently announced it will debut Costa Fortuna in April 2016 as its fourth ship based in China. Costa Fortuna joins Costa Serena, Costa Atlantica and Costa Victoria already based in China, increasing the brand's total available capacity in China by 43 percent in 2016.

"Our Costa and Princess brands are performing extremely well in China, and these new ship deployments will strengthen our growth position and enable us to carry nearly one million passengers in 2016, as we continue executing our plan to meet surging consumer demand for cruising in China," said Alan Buckelew, chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation. "As momentum accelerates in the market, we have a significant opportunity to increase cruising demand amongst China's growing middle class and a new generation of Chinese travelers who are hungry for new vacation experiences."

Buckelew added: "Our focus is on exceeding guest expectations on every ship and really tailoring our product for Chinese tastes, which helps create new advocates and spread the joy of cruising in China. Through our brands, our expanding operations and our potential joint ventures in China, we're excited to play a lead role in helping China become one of the world's leading cruise markets."

In addition to expanding its industry-leading presence in China in 2016, Carnival Corporation recently announced that the latest ship under construction for its Princess brand will be based in China year-round when introduced in summer 2017. Based in Shanghai, the ship will be the first year-round international luxury vessel designed and built specifically for Chinese guests.

Carnival Corporation is also exploring potential joint ventures in China with China Merchants Group (CMG) and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) designed to accelerate the growth of the overall cruise industry in China, including the possibility of launching a world-class Chinese domestic cruise brand, building new ships in China, and supporting port and infrastructure development. These efforts support Carnival Corporation's commitment to help China realize its goal to develop cruising as a key economic driver for its economy and become one of the leading cruise markets in the world.

Carnival Corporation to Build New Cruise Terminal in Barcelona
Carnival Corporation & plc today announced it has signed an agreement with the Port Authority of Barcelona to invest more than 30 million euros to build and operate its second private cruise terminal at the Port of Barcelona, which is used by seven of the company's 10 cruise line brands as both a destination and home port. As part of the agreement, the Port Authority granted Carnival Corporation administrative concessions to operate the cruise terminal and all-new parking facility at Europe's largest port and the fourth busiest port in the world.

Carnival Corporation to Build New Cruise Terminal in BarcelonaWith the agreement, Carnival Corporation has been granted approval to begin the final design process and start construction of the new terminal in 2016. Scheduled to open as early as 2018 in the Port's Adossat wharf, the new terminal will be one of Europe's largest at 11,500 square meters.

In addition, Carnival Corporation will collaborate with the Port to build and open the first public parking facility located on the cruise pier, providing guests embarking on cruises convenient access to over 300 parking spaces.

"As an all-new, next-generation cruise facility, the terminal will be designed to enhance the overall cruise experience for Carnival Corporation's guests," said Michel Nestour, managing director of Carnival Corporation terminal operations in Barcelona. "This will include making it easy and convenient for guests, whether they are arriving at the terminal to begin a cruise vacation, disembarking following the completion of a cruise or visiting Barcelona as one of the ports of call on a cruise. In all cases, our goal is to exceed guest expectations through every stage of the cruise experience, and this new terminal will be built to meet that goal."

"We are excited about our ongoing partnership with Carnival Corporation to enhance our facilities at the Port of Barcelona and continue our momentum as one of the top cruise destinations in the world," said Sixte Cambra, president of the Port Authority of Barcelona. "This new agreement ensures that we will continue to meet the growing popularity of cruising to and from Barcelona, accommodate the latest in cruise ship designs and most importantly provide cruise passengers with the highest levels of quality and service."

Added Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation: "In the past several years Barcelona has seen a consistent surge in growth as a very popular destination for our cruise guests. And as the largest port in Europe, it continues to be a great city and port for both our guests and our cruise line brands. We are excited to expand our operations at the Port of Barcelona with our second private terminal, as it enhances our ability to provide a great experience for our guests. Based on our very positive working relationship with our partners in Barcelona, we see a truly bright future for the cruising industry in Barcelona and look forward to continuing to work with the Port and the city of Barcelona to welcome our cruise guests to one of the most beautiful, vibrant and popular cities in Europe and the Mediterranean."

Across its six existing terminals in 2014, the Port of Barcelona had 764 cruise calls and over 2.36 million passenger movements. Overall, according to studies by the Barcelona's Tourist Office in 2013, cruise passengers had an economic impact of nearly 257 million euros in Barcelona based on spending on restaurants, transport and trade in the city. A large percentage of cruise passengers are experienced travelers who take vacations as couples, single-unit families, multi-generational and extended families and friends, and who enjoy exploring cities such as Barcelona on their own or on organized shore excursions to visit museums, churches, restaurants, shops and more.

When Carnival Corporation's terminal is launched in 2018, it will represent a significant expansion of the company's presence in the Port of Barcelona. Carnival Corporation operates four additional global ports, including Puerta Maya in Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Turk Cruise Center in Turks and Caicos Islands; Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras; and Long Beach in California. Carnival Corporation also operates two private island destinations in the Caribbean, Princess Cays and Half Moon Cay.

Carnival Corporation will open Amber Cove in October 2015 in the Puerta Plata region of the Dominican Republic, which will be the company's sixth global port operation. The company is also expanding operations at its Puerta Maya port in Cozumel, adding a third pier to be able to receive three ships simultaneously starting with the upcoming winter cruising season. In total, Carnival Corporation cruise ships visit over 725 ports of call around the world.

MSC Cruises Enhances Spa And Beauty Services
MSC Cruises announced this week that is enhancing its beauty and care offerings available to guests on its fleet, with additional rejuvenating beauty treatments.

MSC Cruises Enhances Spa And Beauty ServicesGuests on the 12 ships of the MSC Cruises' fleet will now have the opportunity to indulge in a range of targeted wrinkle and dermal filler treatments in a completely secure environment with doctors who have received specialized and exhaustive training.

MSC Aurea Spas across the fleet – from July onwards – will add to their vast array of services the two following treatments: targeted wrinkle treatments with Botulinum and dermal filler treatments with hyaluronic acid.

The targeted wrinkle treatments focus on forehead and frown lines as well as crow's feet. These non-surgical interventions reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in the upper face, resulting in relaxed, more youthful-looking skin. Their rejuvenating effects are visible within days and can be expected to last up to four months.

The dermal filler treatments target smile, lip and marionette lines and can be used for lip enhancement. These treatments take advantage of hyaluronic acid, a substance that occurs naturally in the skin, to smooth, soften and replace lost volume, restoring a youthful radiance to the lower face. The results are immediate and typically last up to ten months.

All ships on MSC Cruises' fleet benefit from the unique MSC Aurea Spa, a truly authentic Balinese-style spa, with all treatments designed exclusively for MSC Cruises. Within an MSC Aurea Spa, guests are looked after by expert Balinese masseuses, beauty therapists, manicurists, pedicurists, hair stylists, and a dedicated spa doctor.

On MSC Divina – one of the line's newest ships, which will cruise to the Caribbean year-round from Miami starting November 2015 – guests can choose from 21 different kinds of massages from Shiatsu to Thai, 13 body treatments from thalassotherapy scrubs to hot lava stone treatments, and eight facials. Signature treatments on board include the Aurea Del Mare, which is a massage that incorporates sea shells, and the Himalayan Dream, which is a massage that incorporates fossil salts done on a special bed actually made of the salt. The MSC Aurea Spa also features six custom Shu Uemura hair treatments – a hair & beauty ceremony inspired by Japanese tradition.

On the fitness side, all MSC Aurea Spas are equipped with a state-of the-art gym with personal trainers and yoga instructors. In addition, MSC Divina is the first cruise ship in the world to offer its passengers Aqua Cycling at sea – allowing guests to get a workout, while having fun and trying something different.

Fathom Adds Sales Executive
Fathom, the pioneer in social impact travel, has named 15-year cruise industry veteran Michelle Sutter as a company senior sales leader. In this role, Sutter will be responsible for marketing and business development supporting sales of Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand that is pioneering the new category of social impact travel. Sutter joined the company in July reporting to David Drier, vice president, sales for Fathom.

Carnival's Fathom Adds Sales Executive"Michelle is a results oriented leader and business partner who successfully cultivates and expands authentic, meaningful relationships," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. "She is committed to collaborating with travel professional partners to help them grow their businesses by successfully marketing and selling more unique products and services. She also has a demonstrated track record and passion focusing her unique gifts and talents to make a difference in the world – she has chaired several community fundraising initiatives and served on boards benefitting children's charities and organizations. Her outstanding business development skills coupled with her dedication to societal impact make Michelle an ideal addition to our team."

Sutter joins the Fathom team from Holland America Line and Seabourn where she was business development manager since early 2013, where she was responsible for increasing travel professional sales and market share for the company and exceeding established revenue objectives on a regular basis. In 2014, Holland America Line recognized Sutter with the prestigious Rookie of the Year Award. Prior to that, Sutter served in several sales roles of increasing responsibility at Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International where she was the recipient of numerous sales awards.

"It is exciting to get in on the ground floor of Fathom, working with a visionary executive team who deeply understands the desire to do good in the world, and who created this unique brand to address the real hunger to help others," said Sutter. "I look forward to helping travel professionals meet the growing demand from travelers eager to immerse themselves in new cultures where they can learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis."

A resident of Vancouver, Canada, Sutter earned a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American studies and Spanish from Simon Fraser University. She also actively supports the Umoja Operation Compassion Society by working with low-income immigrants living in British Columbia. Sutter is fluent in English, French and Spanish.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 50.85 - 2.49%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.69 - 3.61%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.78 - 2.11%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 58.12 - 1.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was the firs to feature an ice-skating rink and what year did this ship enter service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
What was the name of the shipping company whose fleet of passenger ships sported lavender painted hulls?

Answer - The ships of the Union Castle Line were painted with lavender colored hulls. The line operated regular service from Southampton, England to Cape Town, South Africa. Their ships ended their names with "Castle", such as Dunnotar Castle, Windsor Castle, Transvaal Castle, etc. The company was in existence from 1900 till 1977. In the end some of the ships sailed under the "SafMarine" banner of South Africa. Some of ships went to become early cruise ships of such new fledgling cruise lines as Carnival and Chandris.
courtesy of Larry P. Macdonald, Belmont, MA USA


Cruise News - July 20, 2015

Crystal Cruises to Offer Travel Options for Ocean, Expedition, River, Yacht and Air
Exactly 25 years after Crystal Cruises set its course as a leader in luxury cruising with the launch of the first of three ships, the cruise line is charting a new, much more vast, route. Aboard the line's annual President's Cruise on Crystal Serenity and Chairman's Cruise on Crystal Symphony respectively, Crystal's president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez and Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay announced today Crystal's plans for the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality. Over the next three years, Crystal Cruises will introduce new ships – effectively establishing three brand new classes of cruising – as well as its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Crystal Cruises to Offer Travel Options for Ocean, Expedition, River, Yacht and AirIn their special address to guests, Rodriguez and Tan Sri Lim made clear of new parent company, Genting Hong Kong's investment in maintaining Crystal's award-winning reputation and writing a new chapter in the continuing story of Crystal Cruises. The Chairman stated, "Our intent is to make Crystal Cruises the core of what will become the world's premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, not only for the immediate future but for years to come."

In her announcement on Crystal Serenity, Rodriguez shared her enthusiasm about the expansion of Crystal Cruises, saying, "We continue to think bigger, aiming to create unparalleled luxury experiences and adventures for our loyal and new guests, who – like Crystal – continue to seek broader horizons and new perspectives on the world." She added, "We are ecstatic to continue pioneering new areas of luxury travel. Crystal's newly expanded fleet will truly be travelers' passport to virtually the entire world."

The ambitious timeline of new Crystal products begins at the end of 2015.

Crystal Yacht Cruises – December 23, 2015 - Late this year, Crystal Esprit will embark on its maiden voyage as the first expansion of the Crystal Cruises fleet. The vessel is an extravagantly appointed yacht, delivered to Crystal Cruises by Genting Hong Kong (GHK), and extensively redesigned to reflect the stylish elegance for which Crystal is renowned. The 62-guest, 3,300-tonnage yacht will offer intimate, exclusive, and immersive experiences with a boutique ambiance. The all-suite yacht will feature posh, high-end finishes and modern technology, and is outfitted with some decidedly extreme features, like a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht tender for special boating adventures. Additionally, at their guests' fingertips are water skis, wake boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, scuba, and snorkel equipment

Set for delivery in November 2015, Crystal Esprit marks the debut of the new all-inclusive Crystal Yacht Cruises program, which will sail regional, warm-water itineraries of seven days and offer thrilling experiences on water and ashore. The first voyage sails December 23, 2015, exploring the Seychelles Islands, followed by an inclusive, post-cruise New Year's Eve celebration at the Taj Dubai Hotel. Effective immediately for Crystal Society members (the line's repeat guest loyalty program), 2015 – through early 2018 Crystal Yacht Cruises itineraries are exclusively available for booking through August 31, 2015.

For 2016 and 2017, and early 2018, Crystal Esprit routes for the Seychelles Islands, Dubai and Adriatic Coast include:

• Seychelles Islands – Mahe, Victoria; St. Anne Island, La Passe, la Digue; Baie Ste. Anne, Praslin; Laraie Bay, Curieuse Island; Anse Saint Jose, Curieuse Island; Cousin Island; Aride; Big Sister Island; and Desroches Island)

• Dubai - Khasab and Muscat, Oman; Doha, Qatar; Sir Bani Yas Island and Abu Dhabi, UAB)

• Venice, Italy/Dubrovnik, Croatia - Rovinj, Sibenik, Trogir, Vis, Hvar, and Korcula, Croatia

• Dubrovnik, Croatia/Venice, Italy - Kotor, Montenegro; Split, Zadar, and Opatija, Croatia; and Piran, Slovenia

• Dubrovnik, Croatia/ Athens, Greece - Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Parga, Itea, Hydra, and Navplion, Greece)

Crystal River Cruises – The spring of 2017 brings more growth with Crystal River Cruises. Featuring expertly curated itineraries, Crystal River Cruises will offer the hallmarks of the all-inclusive Crystal experience – six-star service, world-class dining, and enriching shore-side adventures. Spacious suites with exquisitely designed interiors and elegant public rooms will punctuate Crystal's entry into worldwide river cruising.

Crystal Luxury Air – Also in 2017, Crystal's brand of Six-Star luxury will soar to new heights with the launch of Crystal Luxury Air, becoming the first in the luxury travel industry to offer extravagant around-the-world trips on the world's most advanced twin-aisle Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The plush aircraft, which typically seats 300, will fly 60 guests in fully reclining business class seats to coveted destinations to which major airlines do not offer nonstop service. Each approximately 28-day itinerary will visit 10-12 remote and/or sought-after locales, with accommodations at some of the world's finest hotels and resorts; cuisine prepared by celebrity chefs inspired by the destination; and world-class cultural entertainment.

Ocean Vessels: "Crystal Exclusive Class" – Certainly not resting on any laurels, Crystal returns its focus to the seas, with three new "Crystal Exclusive Class," cruise ships with the first expected for delivery in late 2018. Genting Hong Kong has signed a letter of intent with Lloyd Werft in Germany to build the polar ice class vessels. Lloyd Werft is widely recognized in the shipping industry for its excellent reputation and success with world-class new builds, building and lengthening six Norwegian Cruise Line vessels, including the Pride of America, the only ocean cruise ship flying the American Flag, sailing year round in Hawaii.

"Our vision and revolutionary plans for Crystal's ocean vessels requires us to partner with a premium shipyard that has the expertise and resources to deliver the 'Crystal Exclusive Class'," said Tan Sri Lim. "Lloyd Werft is synonymous with successful world-class new builds and luxury mega yachts, including Luna, the second largest expedition private yacht in the world, measuring at 337 feet long."

With the introduction of these new vessels, Crystal will be the first-ever cruise line to deliver expedition-capable ships with all the signature features and amenities of a luxury ship or private yacht. The all-suite, all balcony ship will accommodate 1,000 guests, similar to the capacity on Crystal Symphony (922) and Crystal Serenity (1,070), and weigh more than 100,000 gross tons.

"With an impressive 100 tons of space per guest, the average space ratio for luxury cruise ships being 60 tons per person, our new ships' guest-to-space rations will be vast in comparison to past, current and under-construction luxury ships, reaching all corners of the world safely, smoothly and in the utmost style and comfort," said Rodriguez.

Additionally, for the first time ever, guests will have the opportunity to call a Crystal ship "home," with innovative Crystal Residences. Situated on the top deck of the new ships will be 48 unique homes, boasting their own private restaurant, reception and facilities, and much higher ceilings (9 feet) than residences on any other cruise ships or yachts; and equal to most land apartments. Residences will start at 600 square feet and go to more than 4,000 square feet of interior living area, which will be the largest on the high seas.

Other features being introduced on Crystal's new vessels are: a whopping 400 square feet minimum for the guestroom suites - nearly doubling the size on other luxury vessels; increased ceiling heights by one f00t to 8 feet in all suites and decks; raising the bar on personal attention and service with 1,000 crew members on the ships to provide an unheard of one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio; an abundance of mouthwatering options centered on the art and expertise of Michelin-starred and celebrity chefs; and intrepid yacht-like amenities including submarines, helicopters and zodiacs.

The plans fulfill Rodriguez's growing vision for the company since taking the helm in 2013, while also solidifying Crystal's unrivaled reputation for innovating new facets of luxury travel.

"It has been a personal mission of mine since joining Crystal to see this incredible company reach new potential – and thus, new luxury travelers – as we continue to deliver unparalleled guest experiences and superior standards of excellence."

Cunard Concludes 175th Anniversary with Light and Sound Show in New York Harbor
After Queen Mary 2’s festive arrival into New York Harbor yesterday for Cunard’s 175th Anniversary celebrations, the festivities continued during the day. First with master of Queen Mary 2, Captain Kevin Oprey, ringing the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange, as a testament to the economic and industrial achievements of Cunard, as well as to the future of the brand.

Cunard Concludes 175th Anniversary with Light and Sound Show in New York Harbor“Cunard is pleased to contribute to the growing success, visibility and economic impact of the city and to be a part of New York's growing cruise business, which attracts international visitors from across the globe,” Meadows added.

Following the Stock Exchange activities, the Captain, officers and Cunard executives paid a visit to the Cunard Building on 25 Broadway, the site of the company's former headquarters in NY.

The celebrations continued as Queen Mary 2 departed her berth from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and then held position in front of the Statue of Liberty for a spectacular light and music show, dazzling viewers on board as well as spectators in Battery Park, and onlookers throughout the city. Designed by the acclaimed Quantum Theatricals, the light show was cast over the ship, illuminating New York harbor and the sky above. Moments before Queen Mary 2 embarked on her return journey back across the Atlantic, the celebratory display took viewers on a fantastic journey through Cunard’s 175 years of history, as well as the future that lies ahead.

Royal Caribbean Snatches Marketing Chief from Carnival
Royal Caribbean International has named Jim Berra Chief Marketing Officer. Jim will be responsible for all aspects of the cruise line's marketing program, including brand strategy and positioning, consumer and trade advertising, web and loyalty marketing, research, brand development and communications. He will report to Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO.

Royal Caribbean Snatches Marketing Chief from Carnival"We are delighted to have Jim join our team," said Michael. "With so many exciting initiatives on the immediate horizon for our brand, we feel that Jim's impressive history of creativity and proven results will continue the momentum of innovation the brand has created."

Jim most recently served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Line where he oversaw the company's advertising, public relations, customer marketing and digital efforts.

Previously, he served as senior vice president and general manager for Rodale Interactive, where he led the development and marketing of the company's online businesses. Rodale is a global media company publishing some of the best-known health and wellness lifestyle magazines and books. Prior to that Jim also held various marketing positions at Starwood Hotels & Resorts including as the senior vice president of customer marketing and strategic alliances, where he oversaw Starwood's loyalty programs, customer relationship management and strategic alliances. Jim began his marketing career at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

Jim received Bachelor's degrees in economics and philosophy from Northwestern University. He has been recognized with several awards and was listed as one of the World's 50 Most Influential CMOs in 2013 and 2014 by Forbes Magazine; received the Industry Impact Award by Inside Flyer Magazine; and was included in Brand Week's list of Next Generation Marketers.

MSC Cruises Launches New Guest Loyalty Program
MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned cruise line, announced today the launch of MSC Voyagers Club, the company's new loyalty program, that provides increased benefits to members.

MSC Cruises Launches New Guest Loyalty ProgramMSC Voyagers Club replaces MSC's former loyalty program, MSC Club, and is designed to reward MSC's repeat customers and reinforce the company's consistent commitment to offer guests an exceptional all-around experience before, during and after their cruise.

Joining the MSC Voyagers Club is free of charge, and guests are now able to join a "Welcome Level" before taking their first cruise – all that is needed is a confirmed booking. Other levels of the five-tiered membership program include Classic, Silver, Gold and Black. Personalized cruise cards will be provided to MSC Voyagers Club members directly on board at the beginning of each sailing with their membership level.

As part of the new program, MSC has revamped its points structure so that guests now earn points according to the inclusive experience booked (Bella, Fantastica, Aurea or MSC Yacht Club) as well as length of stay. In addition, points are rewarded for onboard spend as well as pre-paid services, such as shore excursions, spa treatments and beverage packages.

Another major benefit of the new program is that all MSC Voyagers Club members will have exclusive access to significant discounts on future cruises. Starting July 20, 2015, members will receive a 5 percent discount on all cruise departures (with the exception of the Welcome level). In addition, MSC will make available a broad array of select cruises, called Voyages Selection, that offer an extra 15 percent off – meaning that all members could receive up to a total of 20 percent off future cruises. And to sweeten the deal for higher-tier members, when booking a cruise from the Voyages Selection, Silver, Gold and Black level members will receive $50 of onboard credit per person.

The range of other privileges extended to MSC Voyagers Club members includes, among others, an invite to a welcome back cocktail party, complimentary basket of fresh fruit in the stateroom and exclusive onboard offers with discounts on items such as internet packages, spa treatments, logo shop items, in-stateroom movies, photos, and the minibar.

Top tier members also enjoy added benefits such as priority boarding, priority disembarkation in ports where a tender boat is required, late stateroom check out when the ship returns to port, an invite to a private Black Card member party, complimentary spumante with chocolate-dipped fruit in the stateroom, increased onboard discounts, free one-hour thermal area session in MSC Aurea Spa, and complimentary dining in a specialty restaurant.

Crystal Cruises Selects Public Relations Firm
Finn Partners, recently named "best mid-sized agency of the year" and one of the "fastest-growing independent public relations firm in the US," has been awarded the North American public relations account for Crystal Cruises. Finn Partners' Travel/Lifestyle Group, which has over 50 staff, will be responsible for the promotion of the luxury cruise line as the company experiences the largest expansion in its 25 year history.

Royal Caribbean Snatches Marketing Chief from Carnival"Crystal Cruises is embarking on an amazing journey of unparalleled growth with new ships and luxurious explorations and adventures for ocean, expedition, river, yacht and air," said Edie Rodriguez, Crystal's president and CEO. "We wanted a public relations agency that could support our vision to be the world's luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand and Finn Partners proved to be the best choice. We were impressed with their extensive travel and cruise expertise and creative approaches to secure broad awareness of Crystal Cruises with affluent consumers and the travel trade."

For Finn Partners, the assignment will be handled from the agency's New York headquarters and led by Managing Partner Virginia Sheridan, who ran the public relations account for the cruise industry's largest trade association, Cruise Lines International Association for more than a decade. Account services will include media relations, strategic partnerships and alliances, marketing promotions, brand and image management and special events.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 52.15 + 0.62%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 84.75 + 1.94%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.84 + 7.17%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 59.13 - 0.62%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
What was the name of the shipping company whose fleet of passenger ships sported lavender painted hulls?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Almost all cruise ships have a wide variety of bars and lounges where passengers can relax with a cocktail before or after dinner. What was the traditional name of the behind-the-scenes watering hole for crew members on the Queen Mary and other Cunard liners?

Answer - A famous and traditional place for Cunard crewmembers to hang out during off-duty hours, is the Pig & Whistle, which is mostly a lounge with a bar, and a place to relax
courtesy of Tom Chase, Boulder Creek, CA


Cruise News - July 13, 2015

Passing of John Maxtone-Graham
So sad to hear of the passing of John Maxtone-Graham who died on July 6 at the age of 85. Our thoughts go out to his wife and family.

Passing of John Maxtone-GrahamAs a teenager I was so excited to get a copy of "The Only Way to Cross" and immerse myself in its wonderful depiction of crossing the Atlantic during the glory days of ship travel. I believe that this book and the follow up "Liners to the Sun" helped fuel a renewed interest in traveling by ship and the growth of the cruise industry.

Then, twenty-five years later, I had the pleasure or meeting him several times on various cruises and crossings and working with him to get the Ocean Liner Museum(OLM) onto the Internet.

While there was never an OLM building - the collections were housed in members homes - each year exhibitions were held in various locations throughout Net York City so having a place on the Internet made perfect sense.

As the Editor of the Museum's quarterly newsletter, Ocean Liner Gazette, John would send me computer disc with the contents of each Gazette written in the ancient WordStar file format. I would then call him to discuss which articles he wanted to publish online.

In all my dealings with him he was always most gracious, friendly and helpful.

The OLM trustees decided to transfer the collection to South Street Seaport back in 2002.

The website hasn't been updated since then but it is still online.

In honor of his passing here is a link to the list of articles many of witch were written by John.

Here is wishing you a smooth crossing JMG.

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 to Undergo Major Refurbishment in Early Summer 2016
As Cunard marks its illustrious 175 year history with the arrival in New York of its flagship, Queen Mary 2, it is proud to announce the next chapter of innovation and investment, introducing new designs and guest experiences to the world's most iconic ocean liner.

From the company's inception, Cunard has been at the forefront of ocean travel. Through establishing the first scheduled Transatlantic Crossings, to the first electric lightbulbs and en-suite bathrooms at sea, to the grandeur of the floating palaces of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, to the launch of the current fleet.

To ensure the tradition continues, Queen Mary 2 will undergo an extensive 25 day dry dock refurbishment at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany next summer, 27 May- 21 June 2016.

Queen Mary 2 single stateroom layoutThis major refurbishment will further refine and refresh guest interior spaces and launch new exciting innovations designed to exceed guest expectations. Three of the key developments are announced today, reflecting the changing needs of Cunard's guests:

• Research shows that increasing numbers of guests are seeking to holiday in multi-generational groups – grandparents, parents and children. Often this necessitates one member of the family travelling as an individual. To support this, and for those simply travelling alone, for the first time, 15 Single Staterooms will be introduced onto Queen Mary 2 during the refit.

• With further growing trends for those booking Balcony staterooms and those wishing to have more flexibility in their dining arrangements, 30 additional Britannia Club Balcony Staterooms will be created on board. Guests travelling in these staterooms will be able to dine at a time of their own choosing in the dedicated Britannia Club restaurant, which will be expanded.

• Just as families are holidaying across the generations, so pets are increasingly seen as integral to the family group. Queen Mary 2 is already the only cruise liner in the world to offer dedicated kennels and currently carries up to 12 dogs and cats on each Transatlantic Crossing. To meet strong demand - these kennel places frequently sell out - a further ten kennels will be created for four legged travellers.

With an eye to the detail that differentiates Cunard, both a lamp post and a fire hydrant will be installed on the area of deck reserved for dog walking as part of the kennels development, so that dogs from either side of the pond will feel equally at home. This was previously a feature of the kennels on Cunard's former flagship, QE2, and was first introduced on board Queen Mary at the suggestion of The Duke of Windsor.

Extensive research has informed a series of further developments which will be revealed over the coming months, building on the flagship's strengths as the epitome of luxury on a grand scale.

Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America, said: "Queen Mary 2 is an icon in the world of luxury ocean travel. A ship that turns heads everywhere she goes, she is the pride of the Cunard fleet and we are committed to ensuring her reputation grows ever stronger."

"These enhancements are just the beginning of an exciting refurbishment for Queen Mary 2, and we look forward to making more announcements about this impressive refit in the coming months," Meadows added.

Celebrity Cruises Names the Industry's First-Ever American Female Captain
For the first time in the cruise industry – and in Celebrity Cruises' history – an American female will take the helm of a mega-ton cruise ship. At 37 years of age, San Francisco native Kate McCue will command Celebrity Summit– a 91,000-ton, 965-foot ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, sailing between the eastern United States and Bermuda. As Captain, she will be responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and the onboard experience of its 2,158 guests and 952 crew members.

San Francisco native Kate McCue will command Celebrity SummitThe modern luxury cruise brand, which operates a fleet of 10 ships, has elevated McCue to the position of Captain based on her 15 years of successful experience and leadership in the maritime industry. During her tenure, McCue has managed ship logistics while sailing worldwide itineraries, including Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and along the Panama Canal. Captain McCue has also served as a maritime leader while sailing several transatlantic and repositioning cruises, and played a notable role in the revitalization of ships in Singapore.

Continuing Celebrity Cruises' dedication to advancing the role of women in leadership, Kate McCue's appointment follows that of Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who was named President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises in December 2014.

"From the first time I met Kate, I looked forward to this moment, when I could extend my congratulations to her for being such a dynamic and highly respected leader who will continue to pave the way for women in the maritime industry," said Lutoff-Perlo. "Of all the great moments throughout my career, this is at the top of my list. I am both honored that Kate accepted this position, and proud of the way our team continues to transform the way people think about Celebrity, and about cruising in general."

A graduate of California State University's California Maritime Academy, Captain McCue has held a variety of roles in the maritime industry, beginning as a cadet and deck officer, then working through a series of successively more responsible positions to her most recent role as Master Mariner with Royal Caribbean International. McCue has earned numerous certifications in a variety of areas pertaining to leadership navigation, ship management and security.

"Becoming the first female American captain of a cruise ship has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember," says McCue. "The honor is amplified by being the first at a company like Celebrity Cruises. The cruise industry is ever-evolving, from the ships and the itineraries, to our guests' expectations for vacation experiences. Celebrity has a history of delivering on each of these and I am thrilled to be a part of it. I look forward to working with an amazing team and the exceptional leadership who bring the Celebrity Cruises vision to life every day."

McCue will begin her new role on Celebrity Summit in August of 2015.

Carnival Dramatically Enhances Shore Excursion Offerings
Carnival Cruise Line has dramatically expanded its shore excursion offerings, adding exclusive new landside experiences and customized private tours, as well as new family-friendly enhancements, including fun complimentary beachside activities, value pricing and free tours in select ports for children under age five.

The new options build upon Carnival's leadership position in the shore excursion arena, with nearly 1,200 unique landside experiences offered by the line in more than 50 ports of call throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Bahamas, Canada, New England, and Central and South America.

"Shore excursions are an important part of the Carnival vacation experience and we've gone to great lengths to provide our guests with even more choices and offer families unique value-added services and pricing options that are exclusive to Carnival," said Erika Tache, Carnival's director of product development.

Exclusive 'Only-On-Carnival' Tour Options In Select Caribbean Ports - For those who want to create unforgettable vacation memories in their own tropical paradise, Carnival now offers exclusive tours that not only include amenities like access to luxurious private villas but also unique enrichment activities that allow guests to fully immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine. The new tours include:

La Casa en la Playa (Cozumel)• La Casa en la Playa (Cozumel) – Recently named Carnival's "Tour of the Year," this five-hour-long tour offers an exclusive luxury experience limited to 30 participants with access to a beach house with five-star service for the day, complete with a personal chef and wait staff. Participants can also learn how to cook authentic Mexican cuisine, make refreshing Margaritas and mojitos, or simply relax on a white-sand beach while enjoying pampering and attentive service.

• Eat, Drink & Dance (Ocho Rios) – This tour is definitely on "island time," designed to please guests' palates and awaken their senses through Jamaica's unique food, music and culture. After savoring spicy samples at a traditional jerk hut, guests enjoy a delicious meal at Miss T's Kitchen which was featured on Guy Fieri's Family Vacation on Food Network. The day continues with a visit to a beachside bar where mixologists create hand-crafted Jamaican rum cocktails and concludes with a spirited reggae dance lesson. Jamaican Home for the Day (Ocho Rios) – Just like the name implies, this day-long tour offers guests their own Jamaican home for a day where they can relax, kick off their shoes, and enjoy a fantastic home-cooked island lunch in their own private paradise. The tour also includes full use of the expansive property which features a beautiful secluded beach where guests can enjoy refreshing frozen daiquiris and other rum-infused cocktails.

• Photo Safari & Beach Expedition (Cozumel) -- Taking place over the course of two days, the tour begins with a one-hour photo seminar on board led by the ships' photographers who offer tips on camera equipment, lighting, photo composition and more. The tour continues the following day with a visit to gorgeous Mexican beaches and a national park where participants are offered an informative hands-on demonstration to "Capture the Moments that Matter."

• Eat, Drink & Walk (St. Thomas) – This self-described "walking culinary/culture tour" begins with a drive through the lush countryside to St. Peter Mountain Great House & Botanical Gardens, home to diverse plant and animal life and an observation level where guests can see the 15 islands that comprise the Virgin Islands chain. Participants can sample 24 different island rums as they learn how to make banana daiquiris and nosh on island-inspired food like saltfish, plantains, jonny cakes and West Indian pumpkin soup.

Carnival is offering new "family friendly" shore excursion options in ports throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico, with tours offered at multiple price points to provide parents the ultimate in flexibility, value and convenience. Children age five and under receive complimentary beach excursions with their parents' paid tour. Sample excursions include:

• Family Beach Escape (Freeport) – Designed with all-ages appeal, this tour begins with an air-conditioned ride to a breathtaking beachside resort. Here, under the watchful eye of trained youth specialists, kids can enjoy such activities as sandcastle-making competitions, treasure hunts and face-painting while parents can relax under oversized umbrellas and sip a cool tropical drink. Lunch is included and water toys, paddle boats, kayaks and other watercraft are available for rent.

• Island Beach Escape for Families by Power Catamaran (Cozumel) – After an exhilarating power catamaran ride, families arrive at Passion Island, which boasts white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters along with full resort facilities with plentiful beach chairs and hammocks. Guests of all ages can enjoy volleyball, water trampolines and pedal boats, while kids get their own special beachside play area. A Mexican-style buffet with guacamole, grilled mahi-mahi and a kids' menu is included in the price.

• Family Treasure Hunt with Lunch at Blue Lagoon (Nassau) – Families are sure to have a blast during this fun-filled adventure where participants must discover hidden treasures, collect clues and answer trivia questions on their journey to win the Pirate's Bounty! After their plunder, families can soak up the sun on a stunning powdery beach as they enjoy a grilled lunch and icy beverages at Blue Lagoon Island, one of the top destinations in The Bahamas.

• All Inclusive Family Beach Resort Getaway (Montego Bay) – Hosted at the Mediterranean-inspired Seawinds Beach Club, one of Jamaica's premier oceanfront properties that is home to magnificent beaches and world-class amenities, this tour includes lively island entertainment, along with a complimentary buffet lunch and drinks. When it's time to cool off, families can take a dip in the ocean or one of the many on-property pools and enjoy fun water sports like sailing, snorkeling and kayaking.

• Well-staffed beachside excursions provide families with extra assistance with services such as stroller storage as well as hosted fun activities like beachside games, and arts and crafts, along with play areas and water slides and toys, all available on a complimentary basis. Offered in all of Carnival's Caribbean ports, the new activities are designed to keep kids entertained while offering parents some much-needed "we" time.

For guests seeking a more authentic landside experience, there are exclusive private tours – operated via custom motor coaches, sailboats, yachts, and even helicopters – that take guests on off-the-beaten-path excursions tailored to the guests' specific preferences. These excursions showcase non-traditional sightseeing sites typically not available to other guests, all under the guidance of an experienced local who provides an "up close and personal" view of the destination.

And with Carnival's new on-board lounge tour dispatch system, tour operators come on board to meet shore excursion participants and tours depart from a shipboard venue versus the previous method of tour operators assembling large groups of guests on the pier, thus providing a more streamlined, organized and expedited departure. Carnival is the only cruise operator in the Caribbean to have local tour operators involved with this enhanced service option.

All of these new offerings complement Carnival's industry-leading programs such as the Shore Excursion Best Price Guarantee. The only one of its kind in the cruise industry, the program provides a 110 percent refund in the form of a shipboard credit should consumers find a better price on a similar tour, providing much-needed peace of mind knowing that they're getting the best price.

HALs ms Veendam Spends Three Nights at Hamilton on 2016 Bermuda Cruises
Guests looking to spend a few days immersing themselves in the laid-back lifestyle of Bermuda can embark Holland America Line's ms Veendam for seven-day cruises to the island in May and June 2016. Sailing roundtrip from Boston, Mass., the four departures each feature two half-days, two full days and three nights at Hamilton, the country's capital, known for its pink-sand beaches, pastel architecture and exceptional golf courses.

HALs ms Veendam Spends Three Nights at Hamilton on 2016 Bermuda CruisesCarrying just 1,350 guests, Veendam offers an ideal mid-sized, premium cruise experience in Bermuda that enables the vessel to dock at Hamilton, in the center of town. The seven-day voyages spend a day at sea after departing Boston and arrive at Hamilton mid-day, with enough time for guests to go ashore and enjoy the town. The ship then spends three nights, including two full days and another half day, serving as a base from which guests can experience local nightlife and dine ashore, if desired. While in Hamilton, the ship's facilities including lounges, entertainment venues, the casino and gift shops will be open so guests may relax and enjoy the shipboard life as well. Veendam departs Bermuda mid-day on day four at the island, with two nights and a full day at sea before arriving back at Boston.

"Our Bermuda cruises in 2015 have been a huge success, and we're excited to take more guests to the beautiful island in 2016," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "It's rare for cruisers to get to spend three nights in a port, and this itinerary is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of all that Bermuda has to offer — both during the day and evening."

With two full days and two half-days, guests will find multiple ways to experience Hamilton's British-tinged charm, cultural heritage sites and world-renowned beaches on a variety of shore excursions. From the ship, guests can take a short walk to Front Street and explore its array of colorful shops and restaurants. Hamilton also is home to a massive, 19th-century neo-Gothic cathedral and the Georgian-style Sessions House that was built in 1815. Shore tours offered by the ship include island tours, snorkeling or diving among famous shipwrecks along the coastline, cycling to scenic vistas, ocean kayaking, and a 360-degree coastal tour of the island with a stop in St. George's.

The seven-day Bermuda itinerary can be combined with a seven-day Canada/New England cruise to create a 14-day Bermuda & Canada/New England Collectors' Voyage. The four Collectors' Voyages in May and June start or end at Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and call at Quebec City, Quebec; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston; and Hamilton, with cruising in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces À La Carte Specialty Dining
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today the introduction of à la carte specialty dining at the line's signature specialty restaurants, providing guests the freedom to savor an array of tastes and gourmet dishes and the flexibility to choose how many courses they wish to enjoy during their meal.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces À La Carte Specialty DiningGuests will experience the ultimate in Freestyle Cruising beginning this October on the all-new Norwegian Escape, where they can choose to dine at any of 11 complimentary dining options or experience new flavors at Norwegian's signature specialty restaurants La Cucina, Le Bistro, Cagney's Steakhouse and the new Bayamo by James Beard Award winning chef Jose Garces, on an à la carte basis.

Norwegian's signature specialty restaurants on Norwegian Escape will feature enhanced menus that include favorite dishes and new tastes alike, offering guests the freedom to select how many courses they'd like to enjoy during their dinner, with per-item pricing. Whether guests wish to have a light meal of a favorite appetizer and soup or salad, or indulge in a multi-course dinner featuring Maine lobster, with Norwegian's new à la carte options, guests will now have the opportunity to create their desired dining experience, just as they would at any land-based restaurant.

At Cagney's Steakhouse, starters on the new à la carte menu range from $4.99 to $7.95 and main courses from $17.99 to $29.99, featuring Certified Angus Beef® brand steaks, the world's leading Angus brand and consumers' top choice for premium beef. At Le Bistro, guests will find delicious new main courses in addition to traditional French favorites, including Bouillabaisse, Pan-Seared Jumbo Bay Scallops and Veal Medallions with Sauce Morrel, starting at $15.99. And guests looking to find a taste of "la dolce vita" will be transported to the Mediterranean when they choose from an expanded menu at La Cucina, featuring antipasti, pasta, risotto and traditional secondi courses starting at $12.99 including Osso Buco alla Milanese, Free-Range Chicken with Prosciutto or Pan-Seared Sea Bass Filet.

Moderno Churrascaria and Teppanyaki will remain at a cover charge of $19.95 and $29.95 respectively, as will entertainment dining including Wine Lovers The Musical and For The Record?: The Brat Pack.

Guests who purchase a Norwegian Specialty Dining Package have the freedom to indulge as they wish, as Specialty Dining Packages will allow guests to enjoy La Cucina, Le Bistro and Cagney's Steakhouse at no additional charge. Guests with a Specialty Dining Package can dine in Bayamo by Jose Garces for an additional fee of $15.

In addition to Norwegian Escape's specialty restaurants, Ocean Blue on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway will also begin offering à la carte options on October 3, 2015, and the new à la carte dining will be available fleetwide beginning January 1, 2016. Other entertainment dining across the fleet, including Cirque Dreams & Dinner and The Illusionarium, will remain at a cover charge. For those guests who wish to reserve their dining times ahead of time, they can continue to do so via MyNCL; there is no charge to make a reservation and guests will have any à la carte selections added to their onboard account at the time of dining.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 51.83 + 5.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 83.14 + 6.05%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.65 + 3.92%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 59.50 + 7.52%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Almost all cruise ships have a wide variety of bars and lounges where passengers can relax with a cocktail before or after dinner. What was the traditional name of the behind-the-scenes watering hole for crew members on the Queen Mary and other Cunard liners?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the 1972 book and author that contributed significantly to the renewal of interest in ocean liners and cruise ships? Bonus Question: Name the follow-up book published in 1985

Answer - My husband and I had the pleasure to sail on the S.S. Norway where John Maxtone-Graham was a guest lecturer. We have an autographed copy of "The Only Way to Cross" which detailed transatlantic travel. He later wrote "Liners to the Sun" about modern day cruising.
courtesy of Michael and Manuela Flynn


Cruise News - July 6, 2015

Carnival Corporation Granted U.S. Approval for Travel to Cuba
Carnival Corporation & plc today announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Commerce granted approval for the company to begin travel to Cuba. Carnival Corporation intends to take travelers to Cuba beginning in May 2016 via its newly launched fathom brand – a new social impact travel brand providing purpose-oriented, social impact experiences, initially in the Dominican Republic.

Carnival Corporation Granted U.S. Approval for Travel to CubaBeginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on weekly seven-day voyages from Port Miami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation's P&O Cruises (UK) brand.

Carnival Corporation intends to operate fathom travel itineraries directly to Cuba for the purpose of providing cultural, artistic, faith-based and humanitarian exchanges between American and Cuban citizens. Authorized under current U.S.-to-Cuba travel guidelines, the new Cuban itineraries on fathom will strictly comply with U.S.

Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people. Carnival Corporation is in active discussions and plans to work with the appropriate authorities in Cuba so that Cuban approval is granted.

Launched June 4th as Carnival Corporation's 10th global brand, fathom is designed as a purpose-driven brand to enrich the lives of its travelers and in the case of the Dominican Republic, drive sustainable social impact on a significant scale. The brand expects to attract 37,000 annual travelers who collectively could spend a total of more than 100,000 days a year either volunteering or immersing in educational and cultural exchanges in local communities.

Beginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on weekly seven-day voyages from Port Miami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation's P&O Cruises (UK) brand. fathom's first impact destination will be the northern region of the Dominican Republic, where Carnival Corporation's new port of call, Amber Cove, will serve as home base.

Following the inaugural April month of voyages to the Dominican Republic, fathom intends to offer both Dominican and Cuban itineraries on a systematic and regular basis, giving travelers the opportunity to choose from two destinations and a range of activities from social impact in the Dominican Republic and educational and cultural exchanges in both countries designed to have a positive, transformative effect on the lives of the travelers.

"We are excited about receiving U.S. approval as the very important first step to ultimately take travelers to Cuba under the existing 12 criteria for authorized travel. We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between U.S. citizens and the people of Cuba a reality," said Arnold Donald, President and CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We know there is strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society. It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to Cuba to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the Dominican Republic beginning in the spring of 2016."

Tara Russell, president of fathom and global impact lead for Carnival Corporation, added: "We're incredibly excited and humbled by this potential opportunity to help travelers experience the amazing beauty and culture of Cuba, while being able to provide educational and cultural exchange activities that will benefit both the traveler and the Cuban people. After establishing the Dominican Republic as our first partner destination, Cuba represents an important step for us to expand our ability to offer meaningful and enriching experiences to purpose-driven travelers. Our goal remains the same for both destinations – to enable travelers to immerse, learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis. We are looking forward to building what we intend to be a beautiful and lasting friendship with the Cuban people."

Led by Russell's strong background in social entrepreneurship, fathom seeks to develop lasting social impact partnerships that allow for meaningful personal enrichment of the traveler, while providing systematic, long-term educational, environmental and economic development benefits in its partner countries.

"We're very interested in exploring the prospects of expanding our partnership with fathom to include Cuba, building new impact programs and lending our assistance to strengthen existing initiatives that will help educational, cultural and humanitarian efforts already going on in Cuba," said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI, a non-profit organization with the mission to help alleviate poverty in rural and urban areas in the Caribbean. "IDDI has long-standing relationships in Cuba and more than a decade of experience working on the ground side-by-side with local officials to make a positive impact in Cuban communities. Nothing else like fathom exists to bring hundreds of like-minded travelers a week to communities of people who need ongoing support. With fathom and its travelers, the potential for making a lasting impact in people's lives is tremendous. We look forward to partnering closely with fathom to take our programs to the next level, and support growth and prosperity for the citizens of Cuba."

Carnival Vista ‘Floated Out’ at Fincantieri Shipyard
Carnival Vista ‘Floated Out’ at Fincantieri ShipyardCarnival Vista, currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, has been “floated out” from its dry dock facility and towed to a new location at the yard, marking a significant construction milestone in the ship’s construction progress in anticipation of its May 1, 2016, debut.

The newest, largest and most innovative ship in the fleet, the 133,500-ton Carnival Vista will offer a variety of one-of-a-kind features, including a suspended cycling experience called SkyRide, the line’s first on-board brewery and the first IMAX Theatre on a cruise ship. Several unique stateroom options, including the new Family Harbor accommodations and the Havana staterooms and suites, will be included as well.

Carnival Vista will operate a schedule of European cruises from May to October 2016. Following a trans-Atlantic crossing, Carnival Vista will operate a pair of voyages from New York in November 2016 then launch year-round Caribbean departures from Miami later that month

Majesty of the Seas o Homeport in Port Canaveral in 2016
By popular demand, Majesty of the Seas will continue to offer short cruises sailing with Royal Caribbean International. The largest and most award-winning global cruise line announced today that the ship will homeport in Port Canaveral, along Florida's Space Coast, starting in summer 2016. Before her season in Port Canaveral where she will sail to the Bahamas, Majesty of the Seas will go into drydock for upgrades and receive transformational new onboard amenities.

Majesty of the Seas o Homeport in Port Canaveral in 2016Voom, the fastest internet at sea, will be available free and unlimited exclusively for guests on Majesty of the Seas to stay connected, brag about their vacation to friends and family, stream their favorite movies and music, and enjoy popular online video gaming.

New features to be introduced on Majesty of the Seas include thrilling waterslides for guests of all ages; family-friendly Jacuzzis; a poolside movie screen; and award-winning entertainment including the Dreamworks Experience featuring activities and entertainment with Shrek, Fiona and other favorite characters from the powerhouse animation studio's popular movies. An enhanced casino will offer gamers a variety of the latest popular slot machines and table games and suite guests will enjoy exclusive amenities and services as part of a newly enhanced suite program. Some of the new delectable culinary options include Izumi Japanese cuisine with fresh and flavorful sushi rolls and sashimi; the Sabor Taqueria featuring a mouthwatering menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes, including hand-made table-side guacamole – all which can be enjoyed alfresco; and the Chef's Table, an exclusive experience hosted by the Executive Chef and Sommelier for an intimate wine pairing dinner.

"Our short itineraries have been very popular offering vacationers the perfect opportunity to sample the unmatched experience of a Royal Caribbean cruise, as well as providing a quick adventurous getaway," said Michael Bayley, president & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "With these exciting new features as well as unprecedented fast and free unlimited internet for guests on Majesty of the Seas, we are stepping up our game and offering a phenomenal short cruise adventure for our guests."

Majesty of the Seas will sail 3- and 4-night cruises to the Bahamas with visits to the cruise line's private island destination, CocoCay. Highly rated among guests, this tropical paradise offers white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters set in 140 acres of lush vegetation. The secluded Bahamian island – reserved exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests – features an aquatic park and water slide, beach volleyball and soccer, snorkeling and other water-based recreation.

With Majesty of the Seas' move, the cruise line is now able to deploy Rhapsody of the Seas – which was announced to sail short Bahamas itineraries from Port Canaveral – to Tampa offering seven-night Western Caribbean cruises in winter 2016. The new itineraries will further expand the choices for guests in Central Florida and help Royal Caribbean increase the total number of U.S. destinations, from where vacationers can find conveniently accessible ports to embark on the ultimate Caribbean cruise adventure. Reservations for the Majesty of the Seas' inaugural Port Canaveral season are now available for sailings beginning May 27, 2016. Rhapsody of the Seas' Tampa sailings are also open for sale for sailings beginning December 3, 2016.

Cunard Culminates its 175th Anniversary Celebration in Port of New York
On 14 July 2015, New York City will witness the conclusion of Cunard's 175th anniversary commemorative Transatlantic Crossing as Queen Mary 2 sails into its U.S. home port for a spectacular finale. The arrival of the great Cunard ocean liner will be marked by a flotilla of historic ships and Coast Guard vessels, including the Mary A Whalen,an oil tanker; the Eric R Thornton, tug boat; John J Harvey Fireboat; Nantucket Lightship, and the Pegasus Tug after she passes under the Verrazano Bridge at approximately 5:30 am and berths alongside the Red Hook Terminal at 7:15 am. This culmination will be the end of a journey that pays tribute to the original voyage made by Cunard's first flagship, Britannia, as the company inaugurated the first scheduled mail and passenger service across the Atlantic on 4 July 1840.

Cunard Culminates its 175th Anniversary Celebration in Port of New YorkCunard has been sailing in and out of New York City ever since the Hibernia first called in 1847, and the company is very proud to call Red Hook Brooklyn its home since 2006. Sites of the company's earlier history and its relationship to the city can be seen through the Cunard White Star sign at Pier 54 and the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway, which was completed in 1921 and is considered a New York City landmark today.

"Cunard's relationship with the city of New York holds a distinctly unique place in our 175-year history," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard North America. "From the great period of emigration in the mid-19th and early 20th century, when Cunard carried approximately one in five emigrants from the old World to North America, many to Ellis Island, to the transportation of hundreds of thousands of military troops across the Atlantic during World War II, New York has been our U.S. homeport for decades, and has played a significant role in the transformative world events during our history. We are very pleased today to extend our heartfelt thanks for our enduring relationship with this great city."

New York Stock Exchange - In the afternoon, Cunard's 175th anniversary will be marked by the ringing of the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange by the master of Queen Mary 2, Captain Kevin Oprey, as a testament to the economic and industrial achievements of the company, as well as to the future of the brand.

"Cunard is pleased to contribute to the growing success, visibility and economic impact of the city and to be a part of New York's growing cruise business, which attracts international visitors from across the globe," Meadows added.

Queen Mary 2 Light Show Spectacular - Later in the evening, a spectacular light and music show, designed by the acclaimed Quantum Theatricals, will mark the finale as Queen Mary 2 embarks on her return journey back across the Atlantic. The show, which will be cast over the ship, illuminating New York harbor and the sky above, will bring viewers on a fantastic journey through Cunard's 175 years of history, as well as celebrate the future that lies ahead. This production will begin at approximately 9:30 pm as Queen Mary 2 holds position in front of the Statue of Liberty, and will be available for public viewing from Battery Park.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.36 + 0.94%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.40 + 1.95%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.55 - 3.77%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 55.34 - 0.11%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the 1972 book and author that contributed significantly to the renewal of interest in ocean liners and cruise ships? Bonus Question: Name the follow-up book published in 1985

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
On what mass market ship did former United States' President and Mrs. Carter cruise in the early 80's?

Answer - After President Carter left office he and Mrs. Carter rode Royal Caribbean's SONG OF AMERICA. Mrs Carter later became the Godmother of a later Royal Caribbean ship. During President Carter's presidency he, Mrs. Carter and Amy rode the Str DELTA QUEEN on a week long cruise from St. Paul to St. Louis.
courtesy of Frank X. Prudent


Cruise News - June 29, 2015

Celestyal Crystal Collides with Tanker
Celestyal Cruises announced that on Saturday June 27th 2015 and at around 1:28 am local time, the Maltese flagged MV Celestyal Crystal had a collision with the Marshall Islands flagged tanker STI PIMLICO.

Celestyal Crystal Collides with TankerNone of the 852 passengers and 382 crew members were reported to have been injured and there were no injuries reported from the crew of the tanker. Celestyal Crystal has reportedly suffered some structural damage to the bow area but the extent of that damage was not clear pending an inspection from its class surveyor.

According to the cruise line, the damage is significant enough that it must be repaired before the ship can resume cruising. The remainder of he current cruise has been cancelled and passengers were given the option to continue their vacation with a two-night hotel stay in Istanbul, plus free shore excursions or they could choose between a free transfer home, or joining another ship from the company.

Passengers will also receive a full refund and the offer of a complimentary cruise, valid until the end of 2016

Silversea Cruises Announces New Ship
Silversea Cruises is happy to announce their new flagship, the Silver Muse, to be delivered in the spring of 2017. The new ultra-luxury ship is being built by Fincantieri and at 40,000 grt accommodates 596 guests, representing an exciting evolution of the Silver Spirit that will redefine ultra-luxury ocean travel, enhancing the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience.

Silversea Cruises Announces New ShipThe addition of the Silver Muse will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships, and will once again significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market with a wealth of enhancements to the onboard experience, while satisfying the uncompromising requirements for comfort, service, and quality of the world's most discerning travelers.

"We have always had a special relationship with Fincantieri, since my father ordered from them the first cruise vessels for Sitmar Cruises in 1987," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, chairman of Silversea. "Both companies have a clear understanding of what today's affluent traveler seeks, and each approaches the market with originality, creativity, and quality. The management team led by Giuseppe Bono has been exceptional in managing Silversea's project."

According to Enzo Visone, Silversea's CEO, "With enhanced design specifications and enriched content, the Silver Muse will continue to build on the sophistication, innovative style and ground-breaking concepts for which Silversea ships are renowned. This ship contributes to our ambitious growth plans that will ensure our continued leadership in ultra-luxury cruising."

"We're very pleased to once again partner with Silversea," commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "Silversea has shown remarkable dynamism and ability to achieve important results in this market. This project offers us the opportunity to develop creative solutions and set new standards for shipbuilding in the ultra-luxury segment, a segment in which Fincantieri has won every new order on the market in the past year."

Additional details and specifications on the new ship will be announced in the near future.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Second Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its second ship—the 930-passenger Viking Sea—was "floated out," marking a major construction milestone and the first time that the new ship touches water. The traditional ceremony took place yesterday, June 25, at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard—little more than a month after the new ocean line christened its first ship, Viking Star, in Bergen, Norway. Viking Sea is set to launch in early 2016; the company's third ship on order, Viking Sky®, is also currently under construction in Ancona and will debut in 2017. As a response to strong demand for Viking's immersive itineraries, all three ships will sail popular routes in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Second Ship"The day that a new ship first touches water is always a special day, and today is indeed a proud one for our Viking family," said Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises. "Having just celebrated the launch of our first ocean cruise ship, we are pleased at the positive reviews she is receiving from our guests and travel industry partners. We have no doubt that her sister ship, Viking Sea, will be met with the same reception upon her debut next spring."

In addition to the float out of Viking Sea, the company also announced that Karine Hagen, Viking's senior vice president of product and daughter of Torstein Hagen, will be godmother to Viking Sea and will officially "name" the ship during the christening ceremony in early 2016. Widely recognized as the face of the brand in Viking's television ads and online cultural enrichment videos, Karine is responsible for infusing the company's itineraries with extraordinary experiences. She is also the author of the children's books, "The World of Finse" (www.finse.me), an educational series that showcases the adventures of Karine's yellow Labrador, Finse, set largely along the global destinations and routes of Viking's cruise itineraries.

"Viking Sea is a magnificent ship, and I am very honored to be her godmother," Karine said at the ceremony. "It has been a great pleasure to meet so many of the Fincantieri Ancona shipyard staff today, and share the pride in their work."

A float out ceremony is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. Viking Sea's float out began at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, with the maritime tradition of welding coins under the ship mast. Karine welded Norwegian commemorative coins representing four generations of birth years in her family: 1911 (grandmother Ragnhild, after whom the onboard restaurant Mamsen's is named); 1943 (father Torstein, Viking's chairman); 1970 (Karine's own birth year) and 2012 (Karine's Labrador, Finse, who was also present at the ceremony). Karine then cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Sea afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

HAL Breaks Ground on New Base Camp Complex at Denali National Park
Holland America Line has broken ground on a new “Base Camp” complex at the company’s McKinley Chalet Resort near the entrance to Alaska’s Denali National Park. Expected to be complete for the 2016 Alaska cruise season, Base Camp is part of Holland America Line’s ongoing enhancement program at the property that also includes room updates, upgrades to soft goods and hotel decor and additional modifications.

HAL Breaks Ground on New Base Camp Complex at Denali National ParkThe McKinley Chalet Resort provides accommodations for guests on Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys that combine an Alaska cruise with an overland tour to Denali National Park and beyond. Base Camp will be centrally located between the main part of the property, containing the reception hall, dining facilities and guest rooms, and the riverfront guest rooms that provide stunning views of the Nenana River.

“Our McKinley Chalet Resort is the premier destination hotel in Alaska, and the addition of Base Camp to this already-spectacular property will make the guest experience all the more memorable and enriching,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Base Camp enables us to showcase Alaska and Denali National Park on a whole new level by bringing even more of the local history to our guests through art, dining and music.”

Base Camp will serve as a new gathering area to relax, shop, dine and enjoy music and entertainment. The largest building in the complex will be the grand 7,800-square-foot restaurant reaching two stories high to showcase views of the neighboring mountains for dining guests. Those wanting to quench their thirst or listen to live music can visit the Gold Nugget Saloon, home to the “Music of Denali Dinner Theater” that becomes a bar and music venue after the show.

At the center of Base Camp is an amphitheater with a covered performance stage and a semicircle of bench seating for guests to enjoy a variety of local shows, ranger talks and demonstrations.

The new location also will feature cozy fire pits to gather around on cool Alaska evenings; outdoor seating for guests who wish to enjoy the scenery; three retail shops offering local goods; and an artist-in-residence cabin where Alaska native and local artists will display and discuss their works.

Walking paths in and around Base Camp show off the property’s mountainous landscapes and beautiful setting nestled just across the Nenana River from Denali National Park.

Alaska-based companies heading up the McKinley Chalet Resort’s enhancement project include general contractor Dawson Construction and Stantec, which is providing engineering services. Additional firms involved are lead and landscape architect The Portico Group, restaurant architect Heliotrope Architects, structural engineering company Michael Leonard Associates and project manager Costigan Integrated, all of Seattle, Wash.

Spanning nearly 60 acres, the McKinley Chalet Resort currently features 478 rooms, fine and casual dining, an on-site dinner theater, on-site raft departures and walking trails along the Nenana River.

Construction Milestone of Carnival Vista Commemorated With Traditional Maritime Coin Ceremony
Construction Milestone of Carnival Vista Commemorated With Traditional Maritime Coin CeremonyIn a time-honored maritime tradition, a ceremony was held earlier today aboard Carnival Vista at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, during which a commemorative coin was welded to the ship’s mast to mark a significant construction milestone.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Vista – the line’s newest, largest and most innovative ship – is set to debut in Europe May 1, 2016.

The coin ceremony – which dates back to the ancient Romans who believed that attaching coins to a ship provided divine protection – signifies the successful completion of Carnival Vista’s exterior outfitting.

It is a longstanding tradition to select a godmother – or “madrina” – to preside over the ceremony. In this case, however, Carnival selected a “godchild” – six-year-old Kye Heald, the daughter of the company’s Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador John Heald, who handled her duties admirably.

With just 11 months until Carnival Vista’s maiden voyage, work continues on the ship’s unique on-board innovations which include the first IMAX Theater on a cruise ship, a suspended cycling experience called SkyRide, the line’s first on-board brewery, and Carnival’s first inner-tube raft slide, the 455-foot-long Kaleid-o-Slide.

Seven HAL Ships to Sail 98 Caribbean Departures Roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa in 2015-16
With longer itineraries and a unique mid-size ship experience, Holland America Line's 2015-16 Caribbean season features a diverse range of options up to 21 days that include not-to-be-missed calls and ports not regularly found on typical Caribbean cruises.

Seven of the line's premium ships will explore the entire region on cruises that sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while ms Veendam returns to the Caribbean in January 2016 to take over the roundtrip Tampa, Fla., departures.

even HAL Ships to Sail 98 Caribbean Departures Roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa"Holland America Line provides the most port intensive and exclusive experience in the Caribbean, with a breadth of itinerary options to highlight the diversity of the region to our guests," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The Caribbean is a popular destination because it's a relaxing, tropical paradise that's accessible to so many travelers, and by offering a wide range of ships and itineraries, we're able to offer a dream vacation at a great value."

From October 2015 through April 2016, ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Oosterdam, ms Veendam, ms Westerdam, ms Prinsendam and ms Zuiderdam sail a total of 98 seven-, 10-, 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises that can be combined into longer Collectors' Voyages ranging from 14 to 21 days. The itineraries span the Caribbean on eastern, western and southern routes, as well as a partial transit of the Panama Canal.

All Fort Lauderdale itineraries feature a call at Half Moon Cay, the line's award-winning private Bahamian island known for its pristine beaches, exciting shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and child-friendly activities.

Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Itineraries - During the season, Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam will sail a series of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries that can be combined to form 14-day Collectors' Voyages spanning both regions. Westerdam maintains a weekly schedule of seven-day eastern Caribbean cruises, while Maasdam sails seven- and 10-day eastern routes, as well as longer 11-day southern itineraries. Oosterdam also features 10- and 11-day southern Caribbean cruises ideal for guests looking for a longer vacation.

The Nieuw Amsterdam will also feature a new seven-day Tropical Caribbean itinerary in 2016 that calls on maiden port Amber Cove, Carnival Corporation's new $85 million cruise center in the Dominican Republic. Located near the historic town of Puerto Plata, Amber Cover will provide access to a purpose-built facility with a welcome center, craft marketplace, eateries, a swimming pool and transportation hub for access to inland shore tours for a wide variety of interests.

In addition to the 14-day Collectors' Voyages, other itineraries can be combined to form a diverse range of options, including a 21-day southern cruise on Oosterdam, a 21-day southern and eastern option on Maasdam and a 17-day nonrepeating double-eastern route, also on Maasdam.

Partial Panama Canal Transits - Guests looking to explore the Panama Canal without going through to the West Coast can embark on a convenient roundtrip Fort Lauderdale partial transit aboard Zuiderdam. The ship makes its way to Gatun Lake and spends the day leisurely scenic cruising. During the 10- and 11-day departures the ship also visits several Caribbean ports.

Zuiderdam recently underwent an extensive drydock to add 25 new staterooms and enhance several public areas — including the dining room, Neptune Lounge, Canaletto restaurant, The Greenhouse Spa and Salon, and the Dive-In outdoor grill serving signature burgers — with new furniture, signage, carpet and design updates.

Roundtrip Tampa Itineraries - Beginning in January 2016, Veendam spends the Caribbean season cruising roundtrip from Tampa on seven-day western and 12- and 14-day southern itineraries. The seven- and 14-day options can be combined to form a 21-day western/southern Caribbean Collectors' Voyage.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.90 - 2.04%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.90 - 5.51%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.65 - 3.28%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 55.4 - 2.41%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
On what mass market ship did former United States' President and Mrs. Carter cruise in the early 80's?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the France of 1962 was built for the French Line she cost $80 million. How much did Norwegian Cruise Line pay for the classic liner when they acquired her in 1979?

Answer - NCL bought the France for 18M USD in 1979. .
courtesy of Jonas Ekstam, Stockholm


Cruise News - June 22, 2015

Virgin Cruises to Launch in 2020
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, announced today that Virgin Cruises has selected PortMiami as the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020. He also revealed Virgin Cruises has signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri for three new mid-size ships.

Virgin Cruises to Laounch in 2020Emerging through a cloud of iconic Virgin red smoke, Richard flew across Miami's Biscayne Bay via helicopter landing at Museum Park. Joined by Virgin Cruises' President and CEO Tom McAlpin, the two raised a Virgin Cruises flag to mark the cruise line's official arrival in Miami.

"This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travelers around the globe," said Richard. "We now have the right partners in place to build a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike, and we look forward to being in Miami and delivering an experience for people who want a new way to cruise."

Virgin Cruises' three new mid-size ships, of about 110,000 gross tons each, are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. There also will be 1,150 crew on board to deliver the famed Virgin customer service. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.

Virgin Cruises' binding LOI with Fincantieri is the first part of a two-step process with both companies committed to signing a contract in Q4 of 2015. The PortMiami agreement will be presented to the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners for their consideration and approval on June 30, 2015.

"Virgin is a customer built brand that listens carefully to what customers want and then works hard to deliver for them. We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that," said Tom. "Today's announcement brings together important ingredients in our future success -- Miami's vibrant culture paired with the excellent Port infrastructure and Port team; and Fincantieri's expertise in prototyping, their creativity and understanding of our vision." Customers are invited to join the journey by visiting www.virgincruises.com to share their ideas on what the new cruise line can do to deliver an incredible experience at sea.

Virgin Group announced the formation of Virgin Cruises in a venture with Bain Capital, one of the world's leading private investment firms, in December 2014. Ryan Cotton, a Managing Director of Bain Capital, and Virgin Cruises board member said: "As lead shareholder, Bain Capital is excited to contribute our deep experience in building and growing great consumer brand companies. We believe there is a large, underserved market and strong growth prospects for a cruise line that delivers a superior experience for young-at-heart customers. We're very pleased to be partnering with the other important shareholders who share the same long term vision, and together we will provide a strong and broad support base for Virgin Cruises."

Virgin expects the experts at Fincantieri to bring these ideas to life. Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: "I am honored our company is the selected partner for Virgin Cruises for such an important development in the cruise industry. I'm convinced this choice will contribute to the expansion of the cruising audience, especially considering the market segment still has wide growth margins. I am sure that together, our teams will create cutting edge ships that deliver a memorable guest experience."

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez noted, "With the largest cruise port in the world, Miami is an exciting city that offers companies and brands an excellent environment for business. We are delighted to be selected by Virgin Cruises as their home port and I can't wait to see their beautiful ships become part of Miami's spectacular skyline."

MSC Cruises And Fincantieri Cut the First Steel of MSC Seaside
MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned global cruise line based in Geneva, and industry-leading shipyard Fincantieri, today cut the first steel for its next generation cruise ship named MSC Seaside.

In a ceremony held at Fincantieri's shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, MSC Cruises' Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and Chief Executive Officer, Gianni Onorato, along with Fincantieri's Chief Executive Officer, Giuseppe Bono, launched the cutting of the first steel of MSC Seaside.

MSC Cruises And Fincantieri Cut the First Steel of MSC SeasideMSC Cruises' Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: "Today, we have witnessed the beginning of the work on an extraordinary new ship, MSC Seaside. It is a ship that revolutionizes industry standards, with an audacious and innovative design that brings guests and sea closer. It is also a testament to MSC Cruises' constant focus on innovation, as it is the fifth prototype ship we've designed."

Vago added, "Moreover, MSC Seaside represents a key pillar in a $5.8 billion, seven-ship investment plan that will double our capacity by 2022. It also steps up our investment in Italy and marks our return to a partnership with Fincantieri, which is something that makes me particularly proud. In fact, the building of the new Seaside ships as well as our other current project with Fincantieri – the $225 million Renaissance Program – are just one example of how a global organization like MSC, of which MSC Cruises is part, plays a key role in the Italian economy."

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, said: "This ceremony is unique for our Group and the Monfalcone shipyard. MSC Seaside will be the largest ship ever built in our shipyards, as well as the first we have ever constructed for MSC Cruises, whose strength - like ours - lies in being a truly global player in its industry. In MSC Seaside we have developed a brand new and highly ambitious project, and we look forward to building it. In two years we will celebrate with MSC Cruises a magnificent ship of which we will all be deeply proud."

MSC Seaside will be based year-round in Miami and will sail a wide range of highly appealing Caribbean itineraries. In addition, MSC Cruises' Miami-based cruise operations – which also includes the stunning MSC Divina, which will sail year-round from Miami starting November 2015 - will benefit from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami, signifying the company's strong ambitions in the North American market and commitment to providing guests with best-in-class service.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises CEO said: "For MSC Seaside, we chose a name that speaks of our vision for cruising in warm weather locations, the proximity with the sea, the joy of traveling, and discovering the wonders of sunny climates in a unique setting. We also call it 'the ship that follows the sun' and it will offer a truly remarkable experience for families, sun worshippers and adventurers."

"In addition, MSC Seaside will spearhead our campaign to expand our presence in North America. MSC Cruises has the unique opportunity to provide North American guests with an outstanding 'Mediterranean Style Cruise' experience, and guests from around the world a unique setting as it will sail to the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean."

With a gross tonnage of 154,000 tons and the ability to accommodate up to 4,140 guests at double capacity, this new cruise ship will be the largest ever built by Fincantieri. The ship is set to arrive in Miami in December 2017, where she will also be christened, marking the first time an MSC Cruises' ship is christened in the US. Sales for cruises on MSC Seaside will start approximately two years ahead of its inaugural season, to reflect the high demand for this unique product.

Large, spacious and designed for the utmost comfort, MSC Seaside will benefit from a bold design and leading-edge technology while boasting a 360 degree seafront promenade. In addition, the ship will be characterized by the most interactive and originally-designed aqua park at sea with five water slides and attractions for all ages.

The ship will feature open modular connected staterooms – convertible staterooms that can accommodate up to 10 people – for families and groups, as well as luxury suites with private Jacuzzis and hanging gardens. MSC Seaside will also boast an enhanced MSC Yacht Club with private solarium, lounge and pool. The public spaces of the ship will feature breathtaking views with a two-deck glass-walled atrium and panoramic exterior elevators. This ship will set a new standard in cruise vacations by seamlessly blending wide family offerings with distinct elegance, with a wide choice of indoor/outdoor dining and bars and beautifully designed entertainment spaces.

MSC Seaside is the first of two identical ships on order from Fincantieri, the second of which will enter in to service in 2018. In addition, MSC Cruises has an option for an additional Seaside generation ship to be delivered by 2021.

MSC Seaside and her sister ship will set new standards for eco-friendliness, featuring Advanced Water Treatment (AWT) systems to remove pollutants and hazardous substances from waste water; garbage treatment plants for highly efficient solid waste management; scrubbers to reduce emissions; antifouling paints; and optimized hull lines, propellers and rudders to reduce drag and fuel consumption. In addition, the ships will have LED lighting, meaning lower energy demand and significantly lower fuel consumption, as well as advanced heat recovery plants to feed fresh water, laundry, swimming pools and hot water. The ship is fully compliant with the Safe Return to Port requirement.

Quantum of the Seas Makes Historic Entry into Hong Kong
Royal Caribbean International, the world's largest global cruise brand, is making new waves in Hong Kong's cruise travel history with the grand entrance of Quantum of the Seas. the most technologically advanced ship ever. The berthing of the largest cruise ship to enter Hong Kong was celebrated at a prestigious ceremony that was held on 20 June, and was attended by government officials, key industry stakeholders and loyal guests. The event also commemorated Royal Caribbean's one-year success in driving local cruise demand and standards by investing millions to launch a fully-owned and operated office and the home porting of Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong.

Quantum of the Seas Makes Historic Entry into Hong KongThe berthing ceremony, which saw senior government dignitaries and key VIPs attending, was held onboard the 16-deck, 168,000 ton Quantum-class Quantum of the Seas. The attendees included the Honorable Gregory So Kam-leung, GBS, JP (Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development); Mr. Philip Yung Wai-hung, JP (Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development -- Commerce, Industry and Tourism); Miss Cathy Chu Man-ling, JP (Commissioner for Tourism); and Dr. Peter Lam (Chairman, Hong Kong Tourism Board). They were joined by the cruise line executives, Mr. Michael Bayley (President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International) and Mr. Dominic Paul (Senior Vice President, International).

"The arrival of Quantum of the Seas reinforces Royal Caribbean's commitment to the region's fast-growing cruise travel market. Cruising has been gaining popularity over the past few years, with Hong Kong region becoming a key strategic location for the Asia and China markets. Launching in April 2016, a fourth Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in the China seas. The five ships will comprise the largest fleet deployment for any cruise brand in Greater China, home porting in four metropolitan Chinese cities -- Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen," said Mr. Bayley.

The ceremony was followed by an extensive tour that saw guests experiencing the unique Quantum-class innovations by Royal Caribbean International. These included the North Star aerial observatory, a glass capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean for incomparable panoramic views; RipCord by iFLY skydiving and FlowRider surfing simulators; and SeaPlex, the multi-purpose sports facility offering a variety of activities, including a first for any cruise ship, bumper cars.

The grand arrival of Quantum of the Seas caps a successful first year for Royal Caribbean's operations in Hong Kong which has experienced a stellar increase in revenues. By the last quarter of 2015, it is expected that more than 35,000 Hong Kong guests will have boarded Royal Caribbean International cruises, of which more than 20,000 guests will have sailed on Voyager of the Seas, proving the decision to home port Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong to be a strategic success.

Following strong demand, the 2016-17 vacation season is already being pre-booked. Among the varied destinations, Okinawa, Japan is the most popular choice for Hong Kong cruise travelers, with the average age range shifting to a younger demographic due to the strong emphasis on family packages and facilities catering to the younger generation.

The strong interest has prompted Royal Caribbean International to extend the home port season for Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong to five months from May to October for next year.

"Moving Voyager of the Seas to home port in Hong Kong was a strategic move that has enhanced our presence in the very important Asia-Pacific region. It has made cruising more attractive and accessible to travelers in this region. Coupled with our world-renowned, friendly and engaging 'GOLD Anchor Service' and the strong support of all the top travel agencies in Hong Kong, we have established a strong business model in Hong Kong in the past year. With further initiatives and investments, we are looking to bring cruising into the mainstream travel market," said Mr. Bayley.

Royal Caribbean International will homeport Quantum of the Seas in Shanghai, offering regional cruise aficionados more choices to enjoy the impeccable service that has become the trademark of Royal Caribbean. She will return to Hong Kong briefly during the Christmas season this year after the homeport season of Voyager of the Seas.

Carnival Corp. Reports Significantly Higher Second Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income of $193 million, or $0.25 diluted EPS for the second quarter of 2015 compared to non-GAAP net income for the second quarter of 2014 of $73 million, or $0.09 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2015, U.S. GAAP net income, which included unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $34 million and $7 million of restructuring expenses, was $222 million, or $0.29 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net income was $98 million, or $0.13 diluted EPS. Revenues for the second quarter of 2015 were $3.6 billion, in line with the prior year.

Carnival Corp. Reports Significantly Higher Second Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and CEO Arnold Donald noted, "We more than doubled our second quarter earnings versus the comparable period a year ago and significantly exceeded our quarterly earnings guidance. Our initiatives to create demand and leverage our scale benefited both cruise ticket prices and onboard revenues contributing to 5% revenue yield improvement (constant currency) this quarter. While all of our North American brands enjoyed strong revenue yield improvement, our Carnival Cruise Line brand performed particularly well again this quarter. We thank our teams around the globe for their consistent delivery of exceptional guest experiences as well as our travel agent partners for their strong support, both of which are critical to our success."

Significant milestones during the second quarter included the launch of "fathom", the tenth brand in the Carnival Corporation family. Beginning in April 2016, "fathom" will introduce a new cruise category offering travelers authentic and meaningful experiences to targeted destinations, beginning with the Dominican Republic, to work alongside locals for transformational community impact.

Additionally, Costa began year-round service from Shanghai on Costa Serena in April and announced the deployment of Costa Fortuna to China in 2016 bringing the total to four Costa ships dedicated to Chinese guests. Princess Cruises also announced that it will expand its presence in Asia with a new ship scheduled to enter service in mid-2017 to be based in China year-round and custom-designed specifically for Chinese guests. Already the industry leader in passenger cruise days home ported in China, these developments will further the company's leading presence in this rapidly expanding market and attract new cruisers to the company's brands.

Also, earlier this month Carnival Corporation finalized a contract with Meyer Werft shipyard to build four next-generation ships that will feature the largest guest capacity in the world as well as the first cruise ships to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas, which is the world's cleanest-burning fossil fuel.

"These milestones further demonstrate our ongoing focus on effective strategic actions, technological development and innovation, laying the foundation for future growth and continued global expansion," said Donald.

Key metrics for the second quarter 2015 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 4.1 percent for 2Q 2015, which was better than the company's guidance of up 2 to 3 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 3.5 percent in current dollars due to changes in currency exchange rates.

• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 6.1 percent in constant dollars, primarily due to an increase in dry-dock days. Costs were better than March guidance, up 6.5 to 7.5 percent due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 8.0 percent due to changes in fuel prices and currency exchange rates.

• Fuel prices declined 37 percent to $411 per metric ton for 2Q 2015 from $657 per metric ton in 2Q 2014 but were higher than March guidance of $402 per metric ton.

• Changes in currency exchange rates reduced earnings by $0.10 per share (constant currency).

2015 Outlook

During the last thirteen weeks, fleetwide booking volumes for the next three quarters were running well ahead of last year at slightly lower prices due to transactional currency impacts. At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the next three quarters are well ahead of the prior year at slightly lower prices again due to transactional currency impacts.

Donald noted, "Current strength in booking volumes clearly demonstrates strong consumer demand for our brands, leaving less inventory remaining for sale and building confidence in achieving significant revenue yield improvement this year. We are stepping up our marketing investment for the remainder of the year to further solidify our base of business for 2016 and drive continued yield improvement as we progress on our path toward double digit return on invested capital."

Carnival said that it continues to expect full year 2015 net revenue yields on a constant currency basis to be up 3 to 4 percent, which excludes translational and transactional currency impacts, compared to the prior year (up 2 to 3 percent on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year). Carnival said that it now expects full year 2015 net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD to be up approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis, which is slightly higher than had been anticipated in the March guidance mainly due to increased investment in advertising.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it has increased its full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share guidance to be in the range of $2.35 to $2.50, compared to 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.93 per share.

Third Quarter 2015 Outlook

Third quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to be up 3 to 4 percent compared to the prior year (up 2 to 3 percent in constant dollars). Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the third quarter are expected to be 2 to 3 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year. Changes in fuel prices net of derivatives, and currency is expected to reduce third quarter earnings by $0.06 per share

Harmony of the Seas Reaches Construction Milestone
Harmony of the Seas Reaches Construction MilestoneSoon to be one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Harmony of the Seas’ exterior construction was completed this week at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The newest member of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis class of ships is now one step closer to full completion as her April 2016 debut approaches. With the exterior complete, Harmony of the Seas was floated out of her dry dock to begin the next phase of interior construction.

Harmony of the Seas will sail the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain during her inaugural season before arriving at her homeport of Fort Lauderdale in November 2016 where she will sail the Caribbean. Harmony of the Seas will feature seven distinct neighborhoods, 20 restaurants and 2,394 crew to serve her guests.

Guests onboard Harmony of the Seas will experience new amenities including three multi-story water slides, the Bionic Bar with robot bartenders, first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and Voom, the fastest Internet connection at sea which gives guests the ability to instantly share their vacation through their social media channels.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.92 + 5.70%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.38 + 6.18%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.74 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 56.77 + 3.78%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the France of 1962 was built for the French Line she cost $80 million. How much did Norwegian Cruise Line pay for the classic liner when they acquired her in 1979?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which cruise ship was intended to be named "Future Seas" before being transferred to another cruise line and entering service under a different name.

Answer - The Pullmantur Cruises' MS Empress was ordered by Admiral Cruise Lines and was intended to be called the Future Seas. But, when Royal Caribbean merged with Admiral in 1987, the Admiral brand was dissolved and the newbuild was incorporated into the Royal Caribbean fleet as Nordic Empress, later Empress of the Seas.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - June 15, 2015

HAL's ms Noordam Rescues 40 Sightseers, Park Ranger in Glacier Bay, Alaska
HAL's ms Noordam Rescues 40 Sightseers, Park Ranger in Glacier Bay, AlaskaWhile in the vicinity of Jaw Point at Glacier Bay, Alaska, Holland America Line's ms Noordam assisted 41 persons on a disabled sightseeing boat Wednesday, June 10. Noordam responded to a call for aid at approximately 12:35 p.m. local time to assist the 79-foot sightseeing vessel Baranof Wind, which was experiencing mechanical troubles near Johns Hopkins Glacier.

The ship lowered a tender, which collected 40 tourists and one Glacier Bay National Park ranger and returned to Noordam.

"We are proud of the proficient response Captain van Donselaar and his team executed in assisting the passengers of Baranof Wind," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Our crewmembers are highly trained to respond when needed and we were fortunate to have been nearby to provide support."

Following lunch onboard Noordam, the sightseers were brought to Bartlett Cove, where the Baranof Wind excursion originated, at approximately 5:30 p.m. local time. Noordam then sailed for its next port of call, Ketchikan, Alaska, where it arrived on Thursday, June 11.

Noordam was in the middle of a seven-day Alaska cruise that sailed roundtrip from Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, June 6.

Norwegian Getaway Passenger Rescued After Going Overboard
A Norwegian Getaway passenger was rescued after reportedly falling or jumping overboard from the ship last Sunday night at 8:30 pm.

Norwegian Getaway Passenger Rescued After Going OverboardA crew member apparently saw the woman go overboard on the second night of the 7-Day Eastern Caribbean, Round-trip from Miami. The crew member threw a life ring towards the woman and notified the bridge as to what he had seen.

Once notified, the captain immediately turned the ship around to return to the location where the passenger was reported missing and a search initiated. A fast boat was lowered and was able to locate the woman and retrieve her from the sea. Once on board she was taken to the ship's medical center for treatment. She was taken off the ship at the next port of call, St. Thomas.

Carnival Corporation Finalizes Contract with Meyer Werft to Build Four Next-Generation Cruise Ships
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced it has signed a multi-billion dollar contract to build four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the world. The contract with Meyer Werft is part of larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with leading shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri S.p.A for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022.

Carnival Corporation Finalizes Contract with Meyer Werft to Build Four Next-Generation Cruise ShipsThe four new ships will also feature a revolutionary "green cruising" design. The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) -- the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel, representing a major environmental breakthrough.

The company said two of the ships will be manufactured for AIDA Cruises at Meyer Werft's shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Additional information about the ships, including which new ships will be added to each brand, will be made available at a later date.

Based on Carnival Corporation's innovative new ship design, each of the four next-generation ships will have a total capacity of 6,600 guests, feature more than 5,000 lower berths, exceed 180,000 gross tons and incorporate an extensive number of guest-friendly features. A major part of the innovative design involves making much more efficient use of the ship's spaces, creating an enhanced onboard experience for guests.

Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, the four new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored onboard and used to generate 100 percent power at sea – producing another industry-first innovation for Carnival Corporation and its brands. Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulfur oxides.

In addition to the two ships being built in Germany, Meyer Werft – which had the capacity to accommodate these four ship-building orders in its production schedule -- will also build the two additional ships detailed in today's announcement at its shipyard in Turku, Finland. Each new ship will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and the guests it will serve, underscoring the company's goal to consistently exceed guest expectations and provide first-time and repeat guests with the vacation experience of a lifetime on each and every cruise.

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said the contract is consistent with the company's measured capacity growth strategy to replace ships with less efficient capacity with newer, larger and more fuel efficient vessels over time.

"We are looking forward to executing on the next step in our fleet enhancement plan," said Donald. "At a cost per berth in line with our existing order book, these new ships will enhance the return profile of our fleet. These are exceptionally efficient ships with incredible cabins and public spaces featuring a design inspired by Micky Arison and Michael Thamm and developed by our new build teams." Arison is chairman of the board of directors for Carnival Corporation & plc and Thamm is CEO of the Costa Group, which includes AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises.

Added Donald: "It will be exciting to see our shipbuilding team bring these new ships to life. Every step of the way, our focus is on designing state-of-the-art ships that provide a vacation experience our guests will love, and we are putting all of our creative energy and resources into making sure we achieve that goal."

"These ships will expand our leadership position for the Costa Group, the market leader in all the major European markets," said Thamm. "These will be spectacular ships designed specifically for our guests who sail on our Costa Group brands."

Bernard Meyer, CEO of Meyer Werft, said: "In past years, we have built seven highly successful ships for AIDA Cruises. We are honored that Carnival Corporation has entrusted us with the implementation of this ambitious shipbuilding program, and we look forward to building these four magnificent ships."

The new ship order will allow the Costa Group to continue to build on its leadership position in the European cruise market – a market in which five out of 10 cruise guests in 2014 sailed onboard a Costa Group ship. The Costa Group – along with Princess Cruise Lines, also part of the Carnival Corporation family -- also occupies the leading position in the rapidly growing cruise market in China.

As part of each shipbuilding company's long-term strategic partnership with Carnival Corporation, additional new ship orders are being explored over the coming decade.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces Flexible Specialty Dining Packages
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today the introduction of new Specialty Dining Packages that allow guests the freedom to savor an array of tastes and unique experiences at the line's signature specialty restaurants and the flexibility to choose the number of nights they'd like to dine for one set price. Norwegian guests sailing fleetwide from August 7* and beyond can enjoy a Specialty Dining Package ranging from three days to the length of their entire cruise, with pricing starting at $59 per person** for a three-day package when purchased online prior to sailing, providing cruisers with an excellent value.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces Flexible Specialty Dining PackagesGuests who purchase a Norwegian Specialty Dining Package can opt to go medium-rare at Cagney's, Norwegian's signature steakhouse; make it al dente at a Norwegian's La Cucina Italian restaurant; enjoy an evening of fine Parisian dining at Le Bistro; and experience fun and fare at Teppanyaki, Norwegian's signature Japanese Hibachi restaurant.

With Freestyle Cruising and Norwegian's new Specialty Dining Packages, guests have the freedom to choose how, where and when they'd like to dine. Guests can tailor their taste buds to their cruising schedule and discover a different specialty restaurant each night or find a favorite and dine there a few nights during their vacation. Guests on a seven-day cruise can choose from packages ranging from three to seven nights, to make the most of their vacation experience and at a savings from the restaurant's individual cover charges.

Specialty Dining Packages are honored in all specialty steakhouses, Brazilian churrascarias, French, Japanese Hibachi and Italian restaurants. Norwegian guests who have purchased a Specialty Dining Package additionally have the flexibility to indulge in their heart's desire in select à la carte priced restaurants and entertainment-based restaurants for a small upcharge*** including:
• Ocean Blue (Norwegian Getaway/ Norwegian Breakaway) - $15
• Cirque Dreams (Norwegian Breakaway/Norwegian Epic)- $10 general seats/$15 premium seats/$35 VIP seating on Norwegian Breakaway
• The Illusionarium - $10 general seats/$15 premium seats
• For the Record: Dear John Hughes (Norwegian Escape)- $15
• Bayamo (Norwegian Escape)- $10
• Pincho Tapas Bar (Norwegian Escape)- $7
• The Raw Bar (Norwegian Getaway/ Norwegian Breakaway) - $7
• Sushi Bar (fleetwide)-$7

Specialty Dining Packages can be pre-purchased prior to sailing for additional savings or onboard during the first two days of the voyage; the dining packages are exclusively sold on the first day of the voyage on three-day itineraries only. Norwegian guests who pre-purchase a Specialty Dining Package prior to sailing can reserve their dining reservations online within 90 days of their sail date or go Freestyle and decide when and where to dine once onboard. Specialty Dining Packages are purchased individually and guests traveling in the same stateroom do not need to purchase packages as a group.

Carnival Breeze To Shift To Galveston, Carnival Magic To Port Canaveral in Spring 2016
Carnival Cruise Line today announced deployment changes designed to enhance its leadership position in two key homeports – Galveston and Port Canaveral, Fla., – while providing exciting “Fun Ship” itinerary choices in time for next summer’s cruise season.

Carnival Breeze To Shift To Galveston, Carnival Magic To Port Canaveral in Spring 2016Carnival Breeze will reposition to Galveston in May 2016 and Carnival Magic to Port Canaveral in April 2016, several months earlier than previously announced. Carnival Breeze will assume Carnival Magic’s year-round schedule of seven-day Galveston cruises beginning May 8, 2016. Carnival Magic will take over Carnival Valor’s current seven-day Port Canaveral cruise program April 23, 2016.

In turn, Carnival Splendor will assume Carnival Breeze’s six- and eight-day Caribbean schedule from Miami May 1, 2016. Carnival Valor will offer a new series of five- and eight-day departures from Port Canaveral beginning June 4, 2016 instead of October 2016 as previously announced.

“Galveston and Port Canaveral are two important markets for ‘Fun Ship’ cruising and these deployment changes provide our guests and travel agent partners with exciting new options featuring a variety of on-board innovations and visiting top destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Bahamas and Florida,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.

Carnival Breeze to Launch Year-Round Service from Galveston in May 2016
Carnival Breeze will kick off its new Galveston-based cruise program May 8, 2016, departing every Sunday on three different week-long itineraries: western Caribbean cruises calling at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, and a seven-day Bahamas/Florida route with stops in Nassau, Freeport, and Key West.

The line’s newest ship, Carnival Breeze offers such innovations as a multi-dimensional cinema experience called Thrill Theater, the Bonsai Sushi full-service Asian restaurant and WaterWorks, an aqua park that includes a 312-foot-long slide, a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, the DrainPipe funnel-style attraction and a splash area for younger cruisers.

Carnival Breeze, originally scheduled to reposition to Galveston in December 2016, replaces Carnival Magic which will reposition to Port Canaveral in April 2016.

Carnival Magic to Sail Seven-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in April 2016
Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral to operate seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning April 23, 2016.

Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from the Space Coast – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove. Prior to launching its new seven-day schedule from Port Canaveral, Carnival Magic will operate a special three-day cruise to Nassau April 20-23, 2016.

Carnival Magic was the first cruise ship to feature a suspended ropes course, part of an expansive open-air recreation area called SportSquare, as well as the Cucina del Capitano Italian family-style restaurant and the RedFrog Pub, a Caribbean-inspired watering hole serving the line’s private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

Carnival Magic’s previously announced schedule from Port Canaveral was scheduled to begin in December 2016.

Carnival Splendor to Offer Six- and Eight-Day Cruises from Miami in May 2016
Carnival Splendor will launch six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami May 1, 2016, departing alternating Saturdays and Sundays.

The schedule, which runs through December 2016, includes eight-day southern Caribbean cruises featuring Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Curaçao, and Aruba, along with eight-day eastern Caribbean departures visiting Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. Carnival Splendor will also offer a three-port, six-day option featuring Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Ocho Rios.

Carnival Splendor will offer a nine-day Carnival Journeys cruise round-trip from Miami departing May 26, 2016, and featuring an overnight call in King’s Wharf, Bermuda, as well as visits to Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) and Grand Turk. A number of special on-board activities and programming are planned, as well.

The 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor boasts on-board features like a 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa featuring a thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite, a retractable dome covering the mid-ship pool, and a classic American steakhouse serving prime steaks and other gourmet cuisine.

Carnival Valor to Offer Three- to Eight-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in May 2016
Carnival Valor will offer a new short cruise schedule from the Space Coast in May 2016 before launching year-round five- and eight-day departures in June 2016.

Three- to five-day sailings will take place throughout May and visit such popular ports as Grand Turk, Nassau, Freeport, and Amber Cove. The ship will also offer a one-time six-day cruise departing May 15 and featuring Nassau, Amber Cove and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor’s year-round five- to eight-day voyages begin June 4, 2016. Five-day cruises will visit Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Freeport. Eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten; while eight-day southern Caribbean sailings will include Curaçao or Bonaire, Aruba and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor is currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in spring 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations.

Cunard Celebrates 175th Anniversary with Commemorative Events in Ports of Halifax, Boston and New York
On 4 July 2015, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 will embark on the capstone of Cunard's 175th worldwide anniversary celebrations with a commemorative Transatlantic Crossing departing from Liverpool, England, paying tribute to the original voyage made by the company's first flagship, Britannia, on 4 July 1840. This journey inaugurated the first scheduled mail and passenger service across the Atlantic and Cunard will be celebrating this historic milestone in three cities which hold a special place in the company's storied past: Halifax, Boston and New York.

Carnival Corporation Finalizes Contract with Meyer Werft to Build Four Next-Generation Cruise ShipsQueen Mary 2, Cunard's reigning flagship, will depart Southampton on 2 July, then call on Liverpool, the "spiritual home" of the company, amid fanfare and fireworks, and then sail onward to North America with celebratory onboard and commemorative shoreside events scheduled for each port of call.

"Cunard is honoured to be one of the few companies who can claim a 175-year history, and to celebrate this milestone and our enduring relationships with these cornerstone cities means so much to us," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "We look forward to honouring Sir Samuel Cunard in his birthplace of Halifax, to commemorate our heritage in Boston in what was the first American company headquarters, and to salute our U.S. homeport, New York in a festive and fitting fashion," he continued.

Halifax, 10 July - Halifax, Nova Scotia, the home of founder Sir Samuel Cunard, will be the first port to welcome Queen Mary 2 on 10 July.

• Cunard will mark the milestone occasion in a special outdoor ceremony, which will include local dignitaries, port officials and key members of the Halifax community. As a key component of the anniversary celebration ceremony, a public area of the future waterfront development will be named for Cunard. The ceremony will take place on the grounds of an upcoming mixed use development created by Southwest Properties and Streamliner Properties in collaboration with the Waterfront Development Corporation. Rhapsody Quintet, who are also members of Symphony Nova Scotia will perform during the event.

• Cunard has joined together with the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to create the first annual "Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage and Creativity," which will be awarded to James D. Irving, Canadian industrialist. This inaugural prize event will take place every year aboard Queen Mary 2 and recognize a different recipient who exemplifies the world-changing vision, courage and creativity shown by Samuel Cunard throughout his life. Re-opening of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's Cunard exhibition, as well as the launch of a new Samuel Cunard retrospective exhibit, showcasing the company founder's impact on global business, transportation and world events.

• Queen Mary 2 will sail away with a festive evening departure, slated to include local navy cadets, with more details to be announced shortly.

Boston, 12 July - Early morning on 12 July, Queen Mary 2 will sail into Boston, Massachusetts, the company's first port of call in the U.S. and the home of its first North American headquarters.

• A special dedication ceremony to launch the newly renovated Cunard Building with the donation of the Servia ship model by Cunard. The model, built in 1881, is being brought over on Queen Mary 2 from the Science Museum in England and will be placed in the front entrance of the former North American Cunard headquarters at 120 State Street. Located in the Customs House District, the building is part of a redevelopment of the area and historically renovated by Highland Development and Morris Architects through the stewardship of the building's owner, Bill Mosakowsi, Public Consulting Group.

• 1:30 pm: Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2, will throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees game at Fenway Park.

• Evening: Fireworks will mark Queen Mary 2's evening departure as she sets off towards New York City for the final leg of her 175th Anniversary tour.

New York, 14 July - Although not a port of call in the original Crossing made by Britannia, New York has been Cunard's North American homeport for over a century.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.23 + 0.45%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.64 - 1.98%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.74 - 2.14%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.70 + 0.61%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was intended to be named "Future Seas" before being transferred to another cruise line and entering service under a different name.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which two 1930's ocean liners had seaplanes mounted between their funnels for the purpose of delivering the mail via air thirty-six hours before the ships docked?

Answer - The liners SS Bremen (1928) and SS Europa (both operated by Norddeutscher Lloyd of Bremen) had seaplanes to carry mail to land. The seaplane was launched from the ship several hours before arrival, landing at the seaplane base in Blexen. The catapult and planes were removed from both sister ships after a few years of service, because it was too expensive and complex.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - June 8, 2015

Carnival Creates New Brand - fathom
Carnival Corporation & plc today launched a new brand called fathom™, defining a new travel category it is calling "social impact travel," that will offer consumers authentic, meaningful impact travel experiences to work alongside locals as they tackle community needs. What sets fathom apart is the long-term, systematic partnership approach with its partner countries paired with the unique business model that allows for sustained impact and lasting development. fathom's scale and global vision reach beyond what the world has ever seen.

The company's first destination will be the Dominican Republic, a country known for its spectacular beauty but also a country where the average household income is approximately $6,000 USD a year and more than two million Dominicans do not have access to piped water.

fathom will operate as a standalone brand, the 10th global brand in the Carnival Corporation family.

Carnival Creates New Brand - fathomBeginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on seven-day voyages from PortMiami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation's P&O Cruises (UK) for the start-up of the new operation. Depending on their passions, interests and skills, travelers will have the opportunity to choose from a range of social impact activities and experiences both onboard and onshore.

"fathom will cater to a growing market of consumers who want to have a positive impact on people's lives, and aren't always sure where to begin," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions to the world. We are so pleased that fathom will give travelers a unique opportunity to work alongside local people as part of a larger scale effort that will demonstrably improve lives. Both our travelers and the local citizens will learn and benefit from the opportunity to serve together."

Donald brought in a non-traditional, social entrepreneur, Tara Russell, Founder and Chairman of Create Common Good (www.createcommongood.org), a food production social enterprise, to lead this effort. Russell will serve as President of fathom and as Global Impact Lead for Carnival Corporation. Russell established and led the team that has been working on the design and business model for fathom since late 2013.

"We created fathom to meet the real hunger in the world for purpose, while at the same time tackling profound social issues through a sustainable business model," said Russell. "We harness the assets and resources of the world's largest travel and leisure company and combine them with the talents and hearts of those working in social enterprises around the world.

"Travelers will work in partnership with proven, trusted local organizations on the ground to amplify their missions for far greater, sustained impact," Russell said. "Because fathom will bring hundreds of travelers to a destination on a regular basis, fathom can achieve focused and holistic, collaborative contributions in a broad region of the country – allowing fathom travelers to make a collective, transformative impact that they know will extend far beyond their involvement. They also will know they played an important role in ensuring the region flourishes. We are excited about making the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic our first partner destination, and we are optimistic about taking all that is being built in and through fathom to other global destinations and to the broader Carnival corporate family."

According to Russell, the fathom team took an innovative design-thinking approach to deeply understanding both its travelers, as well as the needs identified by stakeholders across all parts of society in the Dominican Republic, and will continue to leverage the unique approach.

"fathom will mobilize, educate and equip up to 700 travelers on every trip allowing for thousands of impact activity days per week – and tens of thousands of travelers a year to communities of promise, providing unprecedented scale for impact," said Russell. "fathom has been built differently, having worked carefully to ensure any and all efforts fathom travelers engage with are authentically impactful, scalable and sustainable. fathom's scale allows the opportunity to continuously innovate in the social impact space, while achieving holistic, transformational societal contributions that will help a broad region flourish."

Based on extensive market research, fathom has identified a sizable and growing market of potential social impact travel consumers – approximately one million North Americans who are strongly predisposed, in addition to global travelers already pursuing service-oriented travel experiences worldwide – who will be interested in this type of travel offering.

In addition, the company believes fathom will attract a significant number of travelers who have never before cruised. According to research, nearly 40 percent of the individuals who will book a social impact trip on fathom might otherwise never have chosen to cruise.

According to Russell, fathom will attract people of all ages and from all walks of life, but especially North American, U.K. and Australian citizens ages 20 to 60 years old who are eager to discover their individual gifts, and unleash their personal passions and talents to improve the world. The company expects to be particularly popular among:

• Millennials – people in their 20s and 30s looking to make a difference in the world;

• Parents seeking a way to open their children's eyes to other parts of the world in a meaningful way (approximately half of travelers are expected to be families); and

• Adults 50+ years of age eager to find rewarding ways to help other people apart from writing a check.

"During the past 10 years, in countless conversations I have had with people eager to serve others and make meaningful societal contributions, there has been a common theme – people struggle to know where they fit in and often people have challenges finding trusted, easy ways to make a difference," said Russell. "fathom exists to address this desire and to create enduring, life-changing impact, both in the communities where fathom operates, and in the lives of the travelers who embark on one of our journeys, allowing for unique impact experiences before, during and after the trip."

The new brand selected the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic as its first impact destination based on a number of factors: genuine needs, infrastructure to support social initiatives, enthusiasm for the fathom concept by locals at all layers of society including country officials, its location (proximity to Miami and Amber Cove, the new Dominican destination being launched by Carnival Corporation in October 2015), its innate beauty. The fathom team worked closely with local Dominicans, resident Dominican business and educational leaders, Dominican government officials and leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country to fully understand the societal needs and determine the best way for fathom to participate in addressing those needs.

With Carnival Corporation's new fathom brand, travelers will work alongside people in global communities in need. Planting cacao plants allows the cooperatives to increase their production, to help locals achieve economic independence.fathom has initially identified two lead impact partners in the Dominican Republic – Entrena and the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral, Inc. (IDDI). Both organizations have deep roots in the country, including long-established programs and strong social connections in the northern Dominican region. fathom travelers will work alongside these organizations across the northern region to help Entrena and IDDI programs achieve much greater impact. Because fathom will regularly transport hundreds of travelers to the country, the support will be significant and sustainable – fathom travelers will make long-lasting contributions to the community.

A portion of every ticket purchase price will go directly to fathom partner organizations to cover on-the-ground activities in the Dominican Republic, including supplies, travel, personnel to assist with the activities and funding to support the partner organizations' overall missions. This sustained partnership between fathom and its impact partners allows these organizations to have predictable revenue streams to even further amplify their missions.

"Having led the Dominican based non-profit IDDI, for more than 31 years, I have worked with a very large number of corporations ranging from energy, sugar, chocolate and cigar producers, as well as tourism and free-trade zone companies," said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI, a non-profit organization with the mission to help alleviate poverty in rural and urban areas of the Dominican Republic. "I have always insisted on a horizontal relationship based on a win-win partnership, but on many occasions it has taken a great deal of convincing on our part for these to understand the benefits to the private sector of improving the overall well-being of Dominican society.

"fathom and Carnival Corporation are without a doubt the exception. They are making a strategic bet on contributing to the development of the Dominican Republic incorporating this initiative into their business plan, which is to me a remarkable step for a corporation of their size. This is not just Corporate Social Responsibility, but a vision of bringing people together as a catalyst for change, be they passengers on a ship or members of low-income communities – very, very innovative. In this, fathom and Carnival Corporation are demonstrating they are willing and capable of creating experiences that transform lives."

"Entrena is excited about and committed to the fathom concept of impact travel for the north coast of the Dominican Republic," said John Seibel, founder and president, Entrena, an organization specializing in training, education, and social enterprise. "We believe this concept will enhance sustainable development efforts to foster widespread prosperity among these Dominican communities by improving lives, creating hope for the future, and providing profound and meaningful experiences for fathom and for all Carnival Corporation passengers."

The fathom journey is a carefully designed, holistic impact journey and will begin with one to two days at sea preparing hearts and minds for the on-the-ground experience, including a wide variety of fun and engaging impact-readiness experiences, ranging from an orientation to the Dominican Republic, conversational Spanish lessons, impact activity training, creative workshops, personal enrichment and much more.

fathom travelers may build their own schedules and will have the flexibility each day to choose from a variety of social impact and recreational activities. At launch, the company will offer a selection of fun, immersive, and meaningful activities focused on education, the environment, and economic development along with all the incredible experiences the Puerto Plata region innately has to offer.

Impact activities will vary in length from a few hours to multiple days. Depending on their passions and skills, travelers may spend up to three days on causes they care about, working alongside locals and fathom partner organizations on one or more projects suitable for a wide range of ages, levels of skill and amounts of physical activity. Sample activities may include:

• Economic Development: Help cultivate cacao plants and organic fertilizer at a nursery and assist a local women's cooperative in producing artisan chocolates. This activity is designed to produce high-quality plants to increase farmers' yields through sustainable practices and – importantly – create income opportunities for rural women. Over time, this activity will allow the cooperative to increase their workforce so the cooperative can achieve economic independence.

• Educational: Work side by side with Dominican school teachers in classrooms to teach English skills and help boost students' academic performance; and participate in adult-learning programs to teach small groups of local community members conversational English to help improve their ability to qualify for jobs that provide a higher level of income.

• Environmental: Provide hands-on support to craft and build water filters – using clay, a natural resource found locally – and deliver those filters to families throughout the community to provide healthy drinking water. With limited piped water supply, this will make a meaningful difference in the quality of people's lives throughout the region.

"Together we aim to help communities and travelers flourish by providing immersive, life-changing experiences for travelers and allowing our partner communities to prosper," said Russell.

When not participating in social impact activities, travelers will enjoy exploring the beauty of the region, experiencing the many Dominican beaches and sites of interest, or participating in any one of an array of different recreational activities available to the entire family of Carnival Corporation brands visiting Amber Cove and the Puerto Plata region.

The onboard experience will be customized to this unique travel market, including specialized, purposeful retail options and amenities, as well as geographically inspired menus, music, and additional onboard cultural immersion. While docked in the Dominican Republic, the fathom ship will serve as a comfortable, convenient home-base for travelers.

Semester at Sea Picks Up Former Deutschland
The Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), parent organization to globally renowned study abroad program Semester at Sea, has secured a new shipboard campus—its sixth in the program’s storied 51-year history. The new ship, like its predecessors, will serve as a traveling home and campus that brings approximately 600 undergraduate students to the farthest reaches of the globe every semester, giving deeper meaning to education, experiential learning, and community.

Semester at Sea Picks Up Former DeutschlandThis August, the program’s new vessel will be renamed the World Odyssey for her role as the Semester at Sea campus. Currently named the Deutschland, she has been meticulously maintained since her construction in Germany in 1998 and will undergo routine dry-dock maintenance this summer. The World Odyssey meets the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea), U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Public Health requirements, as well as all other statutory standards to operate throughout the world.

“The World Odyssey marks a new chapter for Semester at Sea—a chapter that will allow us to progress, but maintain our traditions,” said T. Kenn Gaither, ISE President and CEO. “We will continue to provide an invaluable experience to new students, who, like our 60,000 alumni, are eager to embrace the world around them, see with new eyes, and make an impact. The World Odyssey will help us educate a new generation of global citizens.”

The ship has a similar feel to a college or university with her architecture and design, and meets all SAS requirements including safety, program features, and efficiencies. Offering the necessary qualities of a Semester at Sea shipboard campus, some of the World Odyssey’s features include:


• Nine classrooms, each with state-of-the-art technology to support engaged learning;
• A library with built-in book stacks and computers with internet access;
• A reception desk area with around-the-clock crew presence as well as the Semester at Sea field program and administrative staff;
• A large union with upper and lower level seating that will accommodate all students, faculty, staff, and lifelong learners for community sessions;
• Fitness spaces including an indoor gym with large windows, free-weights, weight machines, and cardiovascular equipment; and a spacious sun deck for recreational activities;
• A deck nine alfresco grill and restaurant nearby the outdoor pool, providing a relaxed community dining area; and
• Approximately 600 program participant cabins, some exterior with windows, some interior without.

“The World Odyssey is well equipped to facilitate a vibrant living-learning community in the Semester at Sea tradition,” said Michael Zoll, Vice President of Student Life for ISE. “She will offer a rich new perspective into our commitment to global comparative education.”

In this campus transition, ISE will continue its critical 20-year partnership with maritime management company, V. Ships, which has provided the officers and crew to manage the program’s vessel, and remain integral to the voyage experience. The University of Virginia will also continue as academic sponsor not to extend beyond May 2016. The program’s next academic sponsor will be announced shortly.

In May 2014, the Institute and its European banks structured an agreement to facilitate the sale of the program’s previous ship, the MV Explorer, at the conclusion of the Spring 2015 Semester at Sea voyage. This agreement allowed ISE to gain a release and waiver of any and all financial obligations relative to the ship. The arrangement concluded in a formal transaction completed April 30, 2015, completely relieving ISE of any financial burdens related to the Explorer.

“In reverting to our former business model of leasing a ship and launching two semester voyages per year, ISE is on solid financial ground and in a position to prosper well into the future,” said ISE Chief Financial Officer Larry Grant.

The ship will embark on its first Semester at Sea voyage on September 13 in Southampton, England. The 100-day voyage will visit 13 cities in 11 countries, transit the Panama Canal, and conclude in San Diego, California.

“The World Odyssey symbolizes our program’s bright future,” said Gaither. “We have spent the last year carefully considering ships in the marketplace that would suit the very specific needs of Semester at Sea. The World Odyssey accommodates our program perfectly, and we are excited to embark on our first voyage with her this September.”

Celebrity Kicks Off Summer with Picnic Baskets for Hundreds of Park-goers Across the U.S.
Celebrity Kicks Off Summer with Picnic Baskets for Hundreds of Park-goers Across the U.S.Playing off the fact that it has half-acre lawns of real, growing grass on the top decks of its cruise ships, Celebrity Cruises surprised several unsuspecting people in New York City, Chicago, and the Bay Area, with a luxury trip of a lifetime when hundreds of butlers amazed park-goers across the nation. Each butler presented a packed, complimentary, luxe picnic basket to lucky recipients – and several excited park-goers also received tickets for a Celebrity cruise. The modern luxury cruise line launched the stunt to kick off the summer season as part of its "Grass is Greener" campaign, which began on Monday and highlights the ways in which Celebrity's upscale cruises are unmatched.

Anyone who missed today's action in these cities can enter for a chance to win one of five, seven-night Celebrity cruises for two to the Caribbean by visiting celebritycruises.com/sweeps through June 13, 2015.

Celebrity Cruises is the cruise brand that made vacationers and the travel industry rethink the impossible, when it introduced a half-acre of real grass to the top deck of its Solstice Class ships. Guests can sink their toes in and experience the great outdoors with jazz concerts at sea, gourmet picnics on the lawn or on their private veranda, and much more, when sailing on Celebrity's modern luxury ships. Summer is the perfect time to explore Europe or Alaska, or set sail for Bermuda.

Visit celebritycruises.com/grassisgreener for more information, and follow on social media by using #GrassIsGreener and following the cruise line on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.02 + 0.51%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.19 + 2.67%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.80 - 2.78%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.37 - 0.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which two 1930's ocean liners had seaplanes mounted between their funnels for the purpose of delivering the mail via air thirty-six hours before the ships docked?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
For safety and speed reasons, the SS United States, once the fastest ship afloat, was constructed almost entirely of aluminium and steel. In fact, it was said that there were only two items made of wood on board the entire ship. What were those two items?

Answer - The cutting boards (butcher's blocks) and the piano(s). They requested that a metal piano be made but the piano maker wouldn't do it.
courtesy of Andy Taylor


Cruise News - June 1, 2015

Seven HAL Ships to Sail Panama Canal in 2015-16
Six Holland America Line ships will sail 11 full transits of the Panama Canal and one ship will offer 14 itineraries that feature both the southern Caribbean and partial transits during fall 2015 through spring 2016.

Seven HAL Ships to Sail Panama Canal in 2015-16With cruises ranging from 10 to 22 days, Holland America Line provides guests more in-depth ways to experience the Panama Canal than any other cruise line. In the 2015-16 season, the combined full and partial transits will carry more than 44,500 guests through the lakes and locks of the man-made marvel.

"To witness the fascinating operation of the Panama Canal from the deck of a Holland America Line ship is the ultimate way to experience one of the great engineering wonders of the world," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Our diverse itineraries bring travelers to all seven continents and to many of the world's most compelling marvels; and with 25 departures we offer more ways to experience the Panama Canal than any other line."

Go Between Oceans on a Full Panama Canal Transit - from September 2015 through May 2016, ms Amsterdam, ms Maasdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Oosterdam, ms Veendam and ms Westerdam will make 11 transits between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from six departure cities. Guests can set sail from Boston, Mass.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

In addition to the Panama Canal transit, the 14- to 22-day cruises include a variety of port calls along the way, making each voyage all the more enriching. On the full transits the ships visit destinations in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Caribbean, along with Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line's award-winning private Bahamian island.

Partial transits include the 'ABC' Islands - Besides the full transits, ms Zuiderdam will make 14 partial transits between November 2015 and April 2016. The 10- and 11-day "Panama Canal Sunfarer" itineraries include an exploration of the canal's Gatun Lake and a combination of southern Caribbean calls in Aruba, Bonaire, Columbia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Grand Cayman, Panama and Half Moon Cay.

On each Panama Canal cruise, guests can enjoy the On Location enrichment program that brings local experiences onto the ships through lectures, presentations, cuisine and entertainment. Guests can learn to weave with palm fronds during Caribbean sea days; and while the ship is in the Panama Canal an expert historian recounts the history and drama of constructing the famous waterway. A Panamanian market and buffet on the Lido Deck is a highlight of the voyage, where guests can indulge in regional delicacies such as empanadas, arroz con pollo, ropa vieja and pastel de tres leches.

Azamara Cruises Announces Major Upgrades For Its Two Ships
Azamara Club Cruises, the boutique line delivering an up-market experience at sea with unparalleled destination immersion on land, announced today that its two ships – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – will undergo "major upgrades" while in dry dock in early 2016, reinvigorating the onboard guest experience.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces Major Upgrades For Its Two ShipsThe mid-size ships that accommodate up to 686 guests will be outfitted with new venues, public spaces and technologies to bring fresh services and amenities to guests. From bow to stern, there is no area on the line's ships that will be untouched. The upgrades include all staterooms and suites, dining, spa and entertainment. "We are best known for our Land Discoveries programs which have enabled us to boast an unprecedented number of repeat guest bookings as well as strong back to back voyage reservations. As we continue to evolve our destination immersive offerings, we also want to ensure our onboard experience is modernized to meet guests' every need," says Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.

"We can't wait for our ships to come out of dry dock as these major upgrades are going to have an instant impact on our guests' experience. Each corner of the ships will have a new look and feel, setting a brighter, more contemporary ambiance, while the new venues will bring guests fresh experiences. We're also investing in new onboard innovations and have paid close attention to the smallest of details. We really are redefining our onboard experience in every way."

The Azamara Journey will enter dry dock in January 2016 in the Bahamas, and the Azamara Quest in April 2016 in Singapore.

Celebrity Unviels New "Grass is Greener" Ad Campaign
As vacationers crave outdoor luxury for their summer getaways, Celebrity Cruises has unveiled the "Grass is Greener," a campaign rooted in highlighting ways in which Celebrity's upscale cruises are unmatched. The campaign highlights the modern luxury brand's most iconic, compelling attributes. The most unique of these -- the Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass -- is the backdrop for the message that everything is better with Celebrity. This month, guests can order picnic experiences to enjoy on their private verandas and indulge in special onboard events, including jazz concerts at the onboard Lawn Clubs and evening parties, with more to come. Celebrity also has brought back its most popular offer, "123go!," and president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo is spreading the word on a cross-country tour, surprising travel agents.

Celebrity Unviels New "When we say 'the grass is greener with Celebrity Cruises,' we mean that everything someone could want on their vacation is more authentic, more stylish, and more compelling with Celebrity," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "Real grass growing on our top decks, private and spacious veranda staterooms, our Suite Class, and globally inspired cuisine – these are some of the reasons why the grass is greener with Celebrity. Through this campaign, we want to celebrate everything that makes Celebrity the ultimate modern luxury vacation, and tell that story to affluent travelers, their friends and families who are considering a cruise to any of the world's seven continents."

Guests can choose from two private veranda picnic experiences – for brunch or sunset. Curated by Celebrity's new James Beard-featured chef, the picnic experience is the first of its kind for vacationers sailing with the premium cruise line, and will roll out across the fleet beginning in June, to be available on all ships* in July. Today, Celebrity has surprise Grass is Greener events in store for sailing guests, including evening celebrations, complete with entertainment, food and the new Grass is Greener cocktail – a summer-themed blend of cucumber juice, vodka, agave nectar, jalapeno, lemon juice and basil.

NCL Names New Creative and Media Agency
Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week that it has named BBDO and OMD to be its creative and media agency partners, respectively.

Celebrity Unviels New The account had previously been handled by The Martin Agency. The business will now be led out of BBDO Atlanta and OMD Midwest.

BBDO will be responsible for providing creative and strategic leadership and development of a multimedia advertising campaign. OMD will be responsible for media planning and buying across all media channels.

“Norwegian Cruise Line and the cruise industry are on an uptick and we are looking to capitalize on this business momentum,” said Meg Lee, VP and Chief Marketing Officer. “We initiated this review with the goal to identify the best agency partners to help take Norwegian to the next level and accelerate the global expansion of the brand and our unique Freestyle Cruising proposition. In BBDO and OMD, we have found two agencies with proven track records of success with high involvement brands. More importantly, they each have demonstrated a knowledge about creating campaigns that cross multiple channels. They also have shown that they work well – together and with us. We can’t wait to get started.”

It is expected that the first new work from BBDO and OMD will debut in January 2016.

Carnival Announces Management Changes
James Heaney, an experienced financial executive with more than 25 years in the cruise and hospitality industries, has been named senior vice president and chief financial officer for Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest cruise operator.

James Heaney has been named senior vice president and chief financial officerIn this capacity, Heaney will be responsible for all of the company’s financial, accounting and information technology functions. He joins Carnival June 22 reporting to President Christine Duffy.

“Jim is the ideal candidate for this role, previously holding key leadership positions in a wide range of well-known cruise and hospitality brands, as well as global experience in finance, revenue management, IT and travel operations, all of which will be a tremendous asset to our company,” Duffy said.

Before joining Carnival, Heaney spent three years as CFO for SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., responsible for overseeing the company’s financial organization. He previously held a number of executive financial positions, including CFO and senior vice president of finance and travel operations, at Disney Cruise Line where he worked for 17 years. Prior to that, Heaney held various financial posts at Royal Caribbean Cruises, as well as Pueblo International, which operated a large Florida-based grocery store chain, and Gould, Inc., a manufacturer of super mini-computers used primarily for military application.

Heaney earned a bachelor’s of science in business administration from Texas Tech University as well as a master’s of business administration from the University of Florida.

Adolfo Perez, a 33-year veteran of Carnival Cruise Line, has been named the company’s vice president of trade sales and marketing.

In this role, Perez will be responsible for Carnival’s business development teams and trade marketing functions. Perez starts his new position June 2 reporting to Lynn Torrent, Carnival’s executive vice president of sales and guest services.

“Adolfo is a seasoned travel professional with a true passion for cruising and an appreciation for the valuable and important role that travel agents play in the cruise-selling process,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “We considered both internal and external candidates for this role and felt that Adolfo’s years of experience in the industry and his commitment to the agency community made him the best fit for the job. I am confident that his outstanding leadership skills will serve the trade and our team of sales professionals in the field very well,” she added.

Perez’s experience includes serving as managing director of the company’s UK office where he established Carnival’s travel professional sales network and led the line’s strategic growth initiatives in that country, while overseeing all trade engagement and sales and marketing efforts. He will continue to serve as head of commercial operations for Carnival’s UK business in his new role.

Perez joined Carnival in 1982 as an embarkation agent and has held multiple managerial positions within the company’s reservations and sales departments over the past three decades, including vice president of reservations sales, overseeing the line’s reservations contact centers where he developed many relationships within the travel agent community. He most recently served as the company’s vice president of new markets and new product marketing.

“Working with travel agents for the better part of three decades has provided me with keen insight into the tremendous impact of agents on the overall success of our business,” Perez said. “I am thrilled and honored to lead the best sales organization in the travel industry as we continue to work with agents in developing new and innovative ways to grow their business,” he added.

A resident of Miami Beach, Fla., Perez earned a master’s degree in business administration from Florida International University in Miami, as well as a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) designation from the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA).

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.78 - 0.36%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.16 + 0.45%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.76 + 0.40%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
For safety and speed reasons, the SS United States, once the fastest ship afloat, was constructed almost entirely of aluminium and steel. In fact, it was said that there were only two items made of wood on board the entire ship. What were those two items?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 includes a feature from one of the great liners of the past. The feature is designed to cover the forward deck gear and give the ship a more graceful look. What is the feature called and what ship provided the inspiration for Queen Mary 2?

Answer - The device covering the foredeck of the Queen Mary 2 is called a "turtleback". The first transatlantic liner to use this feature was the the French Line s.s. Normandie of 1935. This not only protected the equipment on the foredeck but made the ship somewhat more aerodynamic. Though she took the the "Blue Riband" from the Queen Mary, the Queen Mary regained it shortly thereafter.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA USA


Cruise News - May 26, 2015

Allure of the Seas Returns to Service Following Extensive Drydock
Gliding on an 82-foot zip line; scaling a 43-foot rock-climbing wall; or sprawling out 136 feet above the sea in a cantilevered whirlpool, Allure of the Seas’ guests will enjoy unique, bird’s-eye views as they sail into some of Europe’s most captivating cities. And having just emerged from an 18-day drydock revitalization, Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas is even better than ever. The ship that helped redefine cruise vacationing in the Caribbean, is delivering Europe’s must-see cities – such as Barcelona, Marseilles, Pisa and Rome – with a host of new restaurants, suites and staterooms, and name-brand boutiques that combine into an unmatched Europe adventure for the whole family.

Allure of the Seas Returns to Service Following Extensive DrydockWith 18 distinct restaurants, Allure of the Seas amps up the flavor with a host of new onboard culinary experiences:
• Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a reimagined Izumi Japanese Cuisine, offering a full teppanyaki menu, as well as fresh and flavorful sushi rolls and sashimi;
• Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar, featuring a mouthwatering menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes, including hand-made tableside guacamole. These dishes can be complemented by a curated beverage menu of tequilas, mezcal, and Mexican beers, as well as delicious sangrias and tableside-mixed margaritas;
• Coastal Kitchen, an exclusive restaurant for suite guests and Pinnacle members, fuses Mediterranean influences with the unmatched riches of California’s bountiful farmlands. The experience is complemented by a robust wine list, curated specifically for the venue And, guests onboard Allure of the Seas will continue to enjoy Giovanni’s Table, 150 Central Park and Vintage Wine Bar, among all the popular specialty restaurants introduced on the Oasis class.

New Exclusive Suite Experiences - Royal Caribbean is introducing 10 new suites onboard Allure of the Seas. These suites offer breathtaking views of the ocean or the ship’s signature AquaTheater and Boardwalk neighborhood and include two Royal Suites, six Grand Suites and two Royal Family Suites. These suites offer a new level of sophistication when paired with the variety of new exclusive suite amenities that include a Suite Lounge, an exclusive lounge area for suite guests to relax offering unmatched expansive views of the ship and sea; the Sun Deck, a new sun deck area that gives suites guests the chance to soak-up and relax in the Caribbean sun with lounge furniture, shaded and seating areas and private service; as well as Coastal Kitchen the suites only full-service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Superior Onboard Shopping - In addition, Allure of the Seas’ guests can shop till they drop with new and exciting onboard boutiques kate spade new york and Michael Kors, in addition to the guest-favorite Coach fine leathers boutique. Guests also have a wide selection of fine jewelry and luxury timepieces in the new Regalia in the Park, Royal Caribbean’s signature duty-free boutique set in the ship’s Central Park neighborhood.

Through October 2015, Allure of the Seas will be homeported at Barcelona, Spain, for the first full Oasis-class Europe season. In November 2015, Allure of the Seas will return to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., alternating seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries every Sunday, visiting exciting warm-weather getaways in the Caribbean.

New Carnival Vista Designed As The Ultimate Family Vacation
Embodying Carnival Cruise Line's motto of Fun For All, All For Fun, the new Carnival Vista will offer family members of all ages the ultimate vacation experience, debuting a variety of amazing, one-of-a-kind on-board features when it enters service next spring.

New Carnival Vista Designed As The Ultimate Family VacationFrom a unique suspended cycling experience called SkyRide and the innovative Family Harbor staterooms and suites featuring a "family concierge" to cruising's first IMAX Theater, Carnival Vista promises fun for the whole family.

"Carnival is the number one cruise line for families carrying more than 700,000 children annually and Carnival Vista will build upon our leadership position in this area with incredible outdoor attractions and engaging indoor spaces specifically designed with families in mind," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president.

Spectacular Outdoor Spaces - Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights – literally – with SkyRide, a first-of-its-kind aerial attraction. Here, adventure seekers pedal hanging recumbent-like cycles at speeds of up to 18 miles an hour across an elevated 800-foot-long track, while enjoying panoramic views to the sea 150 feet below. There will be no charge for Sky Ride.

Adjacent to SkyRide is SportSquare, a fun-tastic all-ages open-air recreation area with a 270-foot-long suspended ropes course, a two-level miniature golf course, a 700-foot-long jogging track, a variety of outdoor fitness equipment, and the new Clubhouse, a modern indoor sports hangout with mini-bowling, ping-pong, sports-themed video games, arcade-style sports games and more.

When it's time to cool off, the young – and the young at heart – can check out WaterWorks, the largest aqua park in the fleet highlighted by Kaleid-o-Slide, Carnival's first inner-tube slide. Riders can zip down 455 feet of exhilarating corkscrew turns enhanced by music and stunning kaleidoscopic effects. And no Carnival water park is complete without the Twister slide, offering 300 feet of high-speed fun, as well as the PowerDrencher, a 300-gallon tipping bucket that's sure to elicit shrieks from kids with each drenching. A kiddie area with 30 different water spray toys and mini-racing slides will be available for younger cruisers.

Amazing On-Board Entertainment Options - There are indoor thrills, too, with the cruise industry's first IMAX Theater with a three-deck-high screen that brings an immersive cinema experience to sea with the latest Hollywood blockbusters and family favorites, IMAX classics and IMAX documentary content. The 182-seat IMAX Theater is part of the Carnival Multiplex, which includes Thrill Theater, a multi-dimensional experience where seats move back and forth and side to side and viewers are sprayed with water and bubbles to make them feel like they're part of the movie. The Warehouse, featuring video and arcade games, is located next door. And no trip to the multiplex is complete without popcorn and other movie favorites, available at a nearby concession stand.

Families can also enjoy all-ages comedy shows at the 385-seat Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez as well as the audience participation favorite Hasbro, The Game Show. New for Carnival Vista will be a premium ice cream parlor within the Cherry on Top confection store where patrons can select their favorite ice cream and mix-ins and watch as their frozen creation is made right before their eyes.

Family-Friendly Accommodations - Exclusive to Carnival Vista is Family Harbor, located within a dedicated family zone aft on Deck 2 with 96 specially designed "family ergonomic" accommodations, including extra-large family suites accommodating five guests and featuring two bathrooms.

The Family Harbor Lounge is a secluded space designed as the ultimate family hangout with large screen TVs, board games and complimentary breakfast, cookies and other snacks. An exclusive family concierge maximizes the fun on board, assisting with dining, spa and shore excursion reservations, registering kids for the youth programs and making recommendations on and off the ship for families with kids of all ages.

Family Harbor staterooms include kid-friendly toiletries, bathrobes and slippers while suites feature separate sleeping quarters for parents and children and a walk-in closet. Guests in Family Harbor staterooms also receive a number of exclusive benefits and privileges, including 24/7 card key access to the Family Harbor Lounge, free meals for kids under age 12 in specialty restaurants, and one free evening in Night Owls, a late-night activities program held in Camp Ocean.

Carnival Vista will also feature Dr. Seuss Bookville, a family reading and play venue featuring iconic décor and funky furniture inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. Here, kids and their families can read Dr. Seuss books, enjoy arts and crafts, toys and play Dr. Seuss-inspired games. Dr. Seuss Bookville is part of Seuss at Sea, a fleetwide program that also includes the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, and Seuss-a-Palooza Parade and Story Time.

Carnival Vista will also include a 4,000-square-foot Camp Ocean play area where kids ages 2-11 are immersed in the wonders of the sea through a variety of age-appropriate, fun-filled and engaging experiences and activities. Camp Ocean includes Party Reef, a common area for all ages, as well as a breakout room for arts and crafts called Creative Cove. Just outside Camp Ocean, are two outdoor playgrounds: Camp Ocean Playground featuring climbing, tactile and exploratory activities for the little ones, while the interactive NEOS® Play Zone offers fast paced high-tech physical fun for older kids. For early teens, there's Circle "C," designed as the ultimate chill space for 12- to 14-year-olds, as well as Club O2, a cool hangout just for 15 to 17 year olds.

Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service from Europe May 1, 2016, then reposition to New York for a series of voyages in November 2016 followed by the launch of year-round Caribbean service from Miami later that month.

Cunard's Three Queens Perform River Dance on the Mersey
For the first time, Cunard's fleet gathered together in spectacular fashion in Liverpool, its spiritual home, as the company marked its 175th anniversary. The event culminated with the three ships - flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria - the largest passenger ships ever to muster together on the River Mersey, lined up across the river just 426 feet apart as the Red Arrows performed a fly-past overhead to the delight of the hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Cunards Three Queens Perform River Dance on the MerseyQueen Mary 2 sailed from the Liverpool berth up to the mouth of the Mersey this morning at 10:45 a.m. to meet her sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The three ships then sailed in close single file down the river to Liverpool's Pier Head with its iconic Three Graces: The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building.

Queen Mary 2 slowed in the river opposite the Cunard Building – Cunard's headquarters for nearly 50 years until 1967 – with her sister ships stopping ahead of her to create a three ship line-up watched by spectators on both sides of the river.

Just 1,312 feet apart, the three ships then performed a graceful 180 degree synchronised turn to starboard. At the mid-point of the turn, all three ships lay across the river, creating the spectacle of the fleet's three bows dramatically set against the backdrop of Liverpool's famous Three Graces. Queen Mary 2 then sounded '175' on her ship's whistle (foghorn) – first one, then seven short blasts, then five more.

With the full turn completed and the 150,000 ton Queen Mary 2 now in the leading position, her two 90,000 ton sister ships then glided slowly towards either side of her to create an arrowhead formation, with the flagship just ahead of her two consort ships.

Finally, the entire fleet lined up three abreast across the river just 426 feet apart, as a salute to the Cunard Building and the City of Liverpool.

With the Three Queens in this tight formation, the Red Arrows flew in formation low over the Three Queens as they lined up on the river, a coup de grace which created a once-in-a-lifetime moment that thrilled hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Commodore of the Cunard fleet Christopher Rynd said, "It's been a privilege to bring the Cunard fleet together on the Mersey for the first time ever to mark Cunard's 175th anniversary year and our historic and ongoing partnership with Liverpool, our spiritual home."

"All of us at Cunard are moved by the incredible reception the Three Queens have received from the people of Liverpool and beyond today," remarked Richard Meadows, Cunard, President, North America. "This moment has brought the relationship between Cunard and the Mersey alive, and that together, Liverpool and Cunard have paid tribute to the people who have created our 175 years of shared history."

HAL Names Captain of New ms Koningsdam
When Holland America Line's ms Koningsdam sets sail in April 2016, Captain Emiel de Vries will be in command. Having been with the company since 1997, de Vries rose through the ranks from fourth officer to captain and has been master of ms Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Rotterdam and ms Zuiderdam.

HAL Names Captain of New ms Koningsdam De Vries currently lives near Venice, Italy, to be close to the Fincantieri shipyard where ms Koningsdam is being built. He has been involved with the newbuild project since 2014 and participated in the functional design of the navigation bridge — his "office" when he is onboard.

"With his knowledge, experience and dedication, Captain de Vries is the perfect choice to be at the helm when we introduce Koningsdam to the world," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Captain de Vries' leadership and graciousness with both guests and crew will contribute greatly to the success of our new ship."

Hailing from the Netherlands, de Vries grew up just east of Amsterdam. He graduated from the Hogere Zeevaart School in Amsterdam, one of the oldest nautical schools in the world, with degrees in navigation and engineering. De Vries was introduced to Holland America Line in 1995 when he interned as a cadet on the former ms Noordam, and since joining the company, he has sailed on every class of Holland America Line's ships.

"It is an honor to be named the first captain of the new Koningsdam, and I know bringing out the ship will be one of the highlights of my career," said de Vries. "Being at the shipyard has enabled me to gain detailed insight into many areas of the ship, and I look forward to welcoming the first guests on board during the inaugural season."

When not in Italy at the shipyard, de Vries lives in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Susan, and their daughter.

When Koningsdam sets sail on its Premier Voyage April 8, 2016, the vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public venues while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

Celebrity Enhances Caribbean Itineraries to Offer Guests More Overnights

Celebrity Enhances Caribbean Itineraries to Offer Guests More OvernightsCelebrity Cruises is offering guests an unmatched experience by introducing additional overnight stays on more than 40 Caribbean sailings for January 2016 and beyond, more than any other cruise line.

The popularity of Celebrity's current overnight program has led to 43 newly enhanced itineraries, giving guests the chance to enjoy exciting evenings in destinations such as Cartagena, Colombia; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Cozumel, Mexico; Aruba; Curacao and Barbados.

"Guests and travel agents love our overnight program in Europe, Asia and around the world, and their feedback has been amazing. This demand led us to revisit our current Caribbean itineraries and add even more overnights in one of the most beautiful places we sail to each year," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises.

"With more overnights in the Caribbean than any other cruise line, we are offering our guests an incredible, unrivaled experience. They can enjoy the destination like a local before returning to our stylish, modern luxury ships."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.95 - 2.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 75.82 + 0.13%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 2.86%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.54 - 1.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 includes a feature from one of the great liners of the past. The feature is designed to cover the forward deck gear and give the ship a more graceful look. What is the feature called and what ship provided the inspiration for Queen Mary 2?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which liner was the favorite of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for Atlantic crossings during the 1950's? On crossings they would always book the same suites and travel with nearly 100 pieces of luggage and their pug dogs

Answer - The favorite liner of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the 1950's was the United States. They switched to the then new USL liner because of the panache of her speed record, and also because Cunard Line had informed them that they would have to charge the couple a baggage handling fee for the extensive number of bags and trunks they carried, and would no longer honor the "free passage" Cunard had provided for members of the Royal Family.
courtesy of Andy Carroll


Cruise News - May 18, 2015

Norwegian Dawn Runs Aground Near Bermuda
On Tuesday, May 19th at approximately 5:00 pm ET, NCL's Norwegian Dawn ran aground due to malfunction of its steering system. The malfunction caused the ship to sail off course as the ship was departing Bermuda, resulting in the vessel making contact with the sea bed. According to the cruise line, all guests and crew are safe and there were no injuries.

Norwegian Dawn Runs Aground Near BermudaThe ship is sailing on a seven-night Boston to Bermuda cruise with 2,443 passengers and 1,059 crew.

Immediately following the incident, the ship's officers, engineers and an independent dive team conducted an inspection that confirmed the structural integrity of the ship. With high-tide ton Tuesday, the ship was floated and moved to a nearby anchorage position where it remained overnight. The ship remained fully operational with the full complement of onboard services available to guests.

On Wednesday, May 20, a thorough assessment of Norwegian Dawn was completed by Norwegian's technical operations team, an independent dive team, and DNVGL inspectors, representing the ship's classification society, while the ship was alongside in Heritage Wharf, Bermuda. The team confirmed the structural integrity of the ship and the technical issue which caused the steering malfunction was identified and corrected.

The ship is expected to be cleared to depart Bermuda at 3pm today and resume sailing to Boston, and is expected to arrive on Friday as scheduled. Norwegian Dawn's next voyage will depart as scheduled on May 22.

NCL announced that all guests sailing on the current voyage will receive a future cruise credit of 15% of their cruise fare to use towards a future Norwegian cruise.

Viking Star Christened
Marking a significant milestone in the arrival of the travel industry's first entirely new cruise line in a decade, Viking Ocean Cruises yesterday christened its first ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star. The ceremony – which took place in Bergen, Norway – occurred in conjunction with a citywide celebration for Norwegian Constitution Day and featured parades, parties and a public concert in the harbor that was attended by approximately 20,000 local residents and visitors.

In addition to the public fanfare, Viking Star's arrival in Bergen is noteworthy because it marks the first time in 10 years that a Norwegian-flagged passenger cruise ship has chosen Norway's second-largest city as its homeport. Furthermore, the mayor of Bergen, Trude Drevland, served as ceremonial godmother and offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for Viking Star – a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years.

Viking Star Christened In Homeport Of Bergen, Norway"We believe the arrival of Viking Star signals a new era in destination-focused cruising, and I could not be more proud that she will call my favorite city in the world 'home,'" said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "This is a ship that was built for exploration and designed with our Scandinavian heritage in mind, and our guests will experience it from the moment they step onboard."

Viking Star's christening was the culmination of a maiden voyage that began April 11 when the ship set sail from Istanbul. Over the last five weeks, she made stops in what will be regular ports across the Mediterranean and Western Europe, including Athens, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice, Barcelona, Seville (Cadiz), Gibraltar, Lisbon, Paris (Rouen) and London. Yesterday in Bergen, Viking Star was positioned in the harbor to serve as the backdrop for a first-of-its kind floating concert. As thousands of attendees gathered along the waterfront last night, they were treated to performances by world-renowned artists and musicians – all of whom have a personal connection to Bergen – including Norwegian soprano Sissel, actor Bjarte Hjelmeland, singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche, acclaimed violinist Charlie Siem and comedy duo Ylvis. Following the concert, christening ceremony, and a fireworks show, Viking Star set sail on a special journey to Oslo and from there will continue on to Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm.

Classified as a "small ship," Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and accommodates 930 passengers in 465 staterooms – each with its own veranda. Engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation, allowing them more time to spend enjoying each destination. With early reviews already in, Viking Star has been described by some as a "game changer," and USA Today proclaimed "you're going to love Viking Star."

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Star was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

Onboard Viking Star, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Norwegian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and the first Snow Room at sea, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.

Viking Ocean Cruises guests enjoy curated itineraries that are designed to best showcase the destinations that they visit, with a complimentary excursion in each port and an onboard cultural enrichment program that includes academic lecturers, local speakers and interactive demonstrations. Viking Star is one of three ocean cruise ships on order; two additional ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are currently under construction.

Genting Hong Kong Completes Acquisition Of Crystal Cruises
Genting Hong Kong (GHK) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Crystal Cruises (Crystal), from Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), for a total transaction of US$550 million. GHK also announced a new Chairman of Crystal and promotions for Crystal's current senior management team, guaranteeing a streamlined transition and virtually no interruption in operations and ensuring award-winning service.

Genting Hong Kong Completes Acquistion Of Crystal CruisesTan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Executive Chairman of the Genting Group and the former Chairman of Norwegian Cruise Line, assumes the position of Chairman of Crystal, replacing Nobuyoshi Kuzuya who will return to NYK in a key executive position. Edie Rodriguez, a 34-year travel industry veteran who was previously President and Chief Operating Officer will be promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer. Thomas Mazloum, a 20-plus year veteran of Crystal's management team who was previously Executive Vice-President will be promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

"Genting Hong Kong is delighted and honored to add Crystal to our global hospitality and leisure brands," said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. "We will ensure Crystal's reputation as 'The World's Best and Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line,' by maintaining its integrity and work to continue elevating its status as the highest standard of luxury cruising. The current management team and crew will continue to lead Crystal's six-star operation while Genting will provide the financial resources and proven expertise in innovative ship design to deliver a new ultra-luxury ocean vessel by 2018."

"We are extremely grateful for the unwavering support of our former parent company, NYK and the wonderful leadership and guidance of Mr. Kuzuya," said Rodriguez. "We look forward to ushering in a new era of luxury cruising with Genting Hong Kong's support. With the support of GHK and its reputation for creating world-renowned leisure, entertainment and exquisite hospitality properties, Crystal is set to embark upon new opportunities that will expand our offerings for our guests and travel partners, as well as broader opportunities for our wonderful team of Crystal employees on land and at sea."

Established in 1993, GHK is part of the Genting Group, a global hospitality and leisure company with business in over 20 countries, including the United States in New York, Florida and Nevada. GHK wholly owns Star Cruises, "The Leading Cruise Line in Asia Pacific," and is a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line. GHK is a public company primarily listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and secondarily on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Crystal Cruises' first award-winning luxury vessel, Crystal Harmony embarked in 1990, with sister ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity joining the fleet in 1995 and 2003, respectively. Since Crystal Harmony's retirement in 2005, the line has operated its enriching global itineraries with the two remaining ships, often pioneering cruise ship access to ports and experiences throughout the world. Continuing innovative momentum, in 2016, Crystal will be the first large luxury cruise line to navigate the elusive Northwest Passage, while in 2018, the cruise line will expand its coveted World Cruise portfolio with four separate global itineraries.

Disney Cruise Line Returning to New York, Miami and Galveston in 2016
In the fall of 2016, Disney Cruise Line will return to New York for a limited time with sailings to the Bahamas that include a visit to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. New seven-night Caribbean cruises from Miami and a return to Galveston, Texas round out the season.

Disney Cruise Line Returning to New York, Miami and Galveston in 2016Return to New York - On Oct. 7, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on an eight-night Bahamian cruise that includes stops at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay; Nassau, Bahamas; and Port Canaveral, Florida, which is located just one hour from the Walt Disney World Resort.

On Oct. 15, 22 and 29, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on seven-night cruises that stop at Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral.

Adding to the magic on each of these Bahamian cruises will be the opportunity to visit the Walt Disney World Resort when the ship stops at nearby Port Canaveral. Each guest on these sailings will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation for the short trip between the ship and the resort.

On Oct. 2, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on a five-night cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. In these charming Canadian ports, guests can soak in splendid natural vistas, explore historic sites, visit quaint cafes and shops, and browse Canada's oldest farmer's market.

New Seven-night Cruises from Miami - For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests will be able to enjoy a season of seven-night voyages from Miami to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. On Nov. 20 and Dec. 4, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from Miami to the Western Caribbean including Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Castaway Cay.

On Nov. 27 and Dec. 11, the Disney Magic will sail to the Eastern Caribbean including Tortola, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay. On Dec. 23, the Disney Magic will sail to Tortola, San Juan and Castaway Cay.

Additional Miami sailings include a four-night Bahamas cruise departing on Nov. 16, a five-night Bahamas cruise departing on Dec. 18, and a six-night Western Caribbean cruise departing on Dec. 30, 2016. Each sailing will include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Return to Galveston - In late 2016, Disney Cruise Line returns to Texas with a line up of seven-night itineraries, including Bahamian sailings that stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. On Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec. 9, Dec. 23 and Dec. 30, 2016, the Disney Wonder will sail on a seven-night Bahamian itinerary from Galveston to Key West, Castaway Cay and Nassau.

On Dec. 2, the Disney Wonder will sail on a seven-night Caribbean itinerary from Galveston to Falmouth, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. On Dec. 16, the Disney Wonder will sail from Galveston on a seven-night cruise to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Grand Cayman. Two four-night sailings to Cozumel on Nov. 10 and Nov. 14, round up the sailings from Galveston.

Royal Caribbean Selects New Creative Agency
Royal Caribbean Selects New Creative AgencyRoyal Caribbean International today announced its intent to retain Mullen Lowe of Boston, Massachusetts to lead the cruise line’s creative efforts, pending successful contract negotiations.

“After an extensive search we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Mullen Lowe,” said Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We are impressed by their strategic and creative thinking, which matches the energy and innovative imagination of our brand."

Mullen Lowe was selected after an extensive agency review process, during which all of the finalist agency teams presented outstanding industry resources and made commendable efforts to demonstrate their skills and creative talent. Mullen Lowe, an award-winning agency which was named to Ad Age’s Agency A-List in three of the past five years and also named a Creativity Innovator of the Year in 2014, is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) of agencies.

“Royal Caribbean has an amazing fleet of innovative ships and a commitment to delivering unforgettable adventures to travelers,” said Alex Leikikh, CEO, Mullen Lowe Group. “We’re excited to help Royal Caribbean firmly differentiate their brand, increase guest loyalty and inspire first-time cruisers to discover the transformative effect of a Royal Caribbean experience.”

Cruise Lines International Association Names New President
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today announced Thomas P. Ostebo will join CLIA as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective July 6, 2015. Selected by CLIA's Global Executive Committee, Ostebo will oversee CLIA operations both domestically and internationally, working directly with his senior leadership team to execute the organization's vision and work on behalf of CLIA members.

Cruise Lines International Association Names New PresidentA seasoned senior executive leader, Ostebo has more than 30 years of experience leading large, sophisticated and complex organizations. He joins CLIA from the United States Coast Guard where he served as Rear Admiral. Most recently, Ostebo was Director of Strategic Management where he supported strategy and budget policy for the Coast Guard. Ostebo also served as Commander for the Coast Guard 17th District and led all Coast Guard Operations in Alaska, the Arctic and North Pacific where he was responsible for protecting life and property, enforcing federal laws and treaties, preserving the living marine resources and promoting national security.

"After a thorough search process, we are thrilled to announce the appointment of our new President and CEO, Thomas Ostebo," said Global CLIA Chairman, Adam M. Goldstein. "Tom brings years of outstanding maritime and strategic business leadership experience to this important position that leads the cruise industry's global association. We are confident CLIA will thrive under his direction for years to come. More importantly, Tom's strong communication skills and energy made him the ideal person for this role."

Ostebo will lead CLIA's work to help all its members succeed and unify, represent, advocate and promote the common interests of the global cruise industry. Among his priorities, he will continue to enhance the Travel Agency, Individual Travel Agent and Executive Partner member programs that were introduced in fall 2014, as well as the new Travel Agent professional development training. Ostebo will be located at CLIA global headquarters in Washington D.C., and work with CLIA's 15 offices across the globe, including Abremar-Brasil, Alaska, Australasia, Belgium & Luxembourg, Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, North America, North Asia, North West & Canada, Southeast Asia, Spain and UK & Ireland.

"I am incredibly humbled, honored and excited to join an industry with such a rich history of success and growth. This appointment is a perfect next step in my career as it allows me to leverage my experiences and passions, from leading large complex teams to advocating for marine resources," said Ostebo. "CLIA currently has a strong foundation and outstanding senior leadership, so I look forward to building upon this and providing new strategies and approaches to move CLIA and the cruise industry forward. Ultimately, my goal is to perform meaningful work and build strong relationships."

The appointment follows the departure of Christine Duffy, former CLIA President and Chief Executive Officer, on January 31, 2015. CLIA relied on the services of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to lead the search for a new President and CEO.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.91 + 3.63%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 75.72 + 4.38%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.80 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 55.49 + 4.25%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which liner was the favorite of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for Atlantic crossings during the 1950's? On crossings they would always book the same suites and travel with nearly 100 pieces of luggage and their pug dogs.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which Holland America ship caught fire and sank off the Alaska coast in October 1980 while on a positioning cruise from Vancouver to the Orient? Her 524 passengers and crew were evacuated safely. .

Answer - The Holland America liner MS Prinsendam, built in 1973, caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Alaska because a boiler explosion on October 4, 1980. All passengers and crew were saved. The liner finally sank on October 11.
courtesy of Fernando M., Seville, Spain.

VACATION & CRUISE SPECIALS
Check out these great deals from CruisePage.com

Royal Caribbean - Bahamas Getaway from $129 per person
Description: Experience the beautiful ports of Nassau and Royal Caribbean's private island - CocoCay on a 3-night Weekend Getaway to the Bahamas. Absorb everything island life has to offer as you snorkel with the stingrays, parasail above the serene blue waters and walk the endless white sand beaches. From Miami.
Carnival - 4-Day Bahamas  from $229 per person
Description: Enjoy a wonderful 3 Day cruise to the fun-loving playground of Nassau, Bahamas. Discover Nassau, the capital city as well as the cultural, commercial and financial heart of the Bahamas. Meet the Atlantic Southern Stingrays, the guardians of Blackbeard's treasure.
NCL - Bermuda - 7 Day from $499 per person
Description: What a charming little chain of islands. Walk on pink sand beaches. Swim and snorkel in turquoise seas. Take in the historical sights. They're stoically British and very quaint. Or explore the coral reefs. You can get to them by boat or propelled by fins. You pick. Freestyle Cruising doesn't tell you where to go or what to do. Sure, you can plan ahead, or decide once onboard. After all, it's your vacation. There are no deadlines or must do's.
Holland America - Eastern Caribbean from From $599 per person
Description: White sand, black sand, talcum soft or shell strewn, the beaches of the Eastern Caribbean invite you to swim, snorkel or simply relax. For shoppers, there's duty-free St. Thomas, the Straw Market in Nassau, French perfume and Dutch chocolates on St. Maarten. For history buffs, the fascinating fusion of Caribbean, Latin and European cultures. For everyone, a day spent on HAL's award winning private island Half Moon Cay.
Celebrity - 7-Night Western Mediterranean  from $549 per person
Description: For centuries people have traveled to Europe to see magnificent ruins, art treasures and natural wonders. And the best way to do so is by cruise ship. Think of it - you pack and unpack only once. No wasted time searching for hotels and negotiating train stations. Instead, you arrive at romantic ports of call relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Holland America - Alaska from From $499 per person
Description: Sail between Vancouver and Seward, departing Sundays on the ms Statendam or ms Volendam and enjoy towering mountains, actively calving glaciers and pristine wildlife habitat. Glacier Bay and College Fjord offer two completely different glacier-viewing experiences.
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